Why you should avoid staying inside a hot car this summer

Your radiator should be the least of your worries
by Drei Laurel | Mar 14, 2019
PHOTO: Drei Laurel

Planning long-haul road trips in your head, itching for some sand between your toes, and experiencing an incessant craving for halo-halo? Don’t worry, you’re not alone: Summer is coming.

Finally, it’s time to put those vacation leaves to good use. But the thing is, with the sun, surf, and fun the season brings, scorching temperatures and the resulting problems arrive with it. And when things really start to heat up, being stuck on the side of the road with a busted radiator should be the least of your worries.

Please, if your ride’s A/C is on the fritz or if you’ve just returned to your car after leaving it parked under the sun for a couple of hours, think twice about hopping in. Heat stroke is a real danger during this time of year, and the risk of succumbing to one is only multiplied when you’re cooped up inside a hot vehicle.

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According to the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD), an area with a 32-degree Celsius room temperature can experience a heat index—a value used to measure the actual temperature a person feels, or ‘real feel’—of 41 degrees or higher during the summer. And heat indexes of up to 54 degrees are common during this time of year.

Now, imagine how hot a car cabin becomes minus the A/C or after being left to bake under the sun for a couple of hours. Minors, the elderly, and people with preexisting heart or kidney conditions are especially prone to suffering from heat stroke.

There are things you need to watch out for. According to the Department of Health, signs you’re getting a bit too hot for your own good include a rapid heartbeat, flushed skin, dizziness, and headache—these are symptoms of heat exhaustion. Sweat is a good thing, as it’s your body’s natural way of cooling down and shows you’re still somewhat hydrated.

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Once your body temperature goes above the 41-degree Celsius mark, you’re in real trouble. At this point, heat stroke occurs, which can lead to loss of consciousness and even seizures.

So how can we prevent heat stroke from occurring inside a car? It’s simple: Keep cool.

Do not park your car underneath the rays of the noontime sun, and if it can’t be avoided, at least have the sense to let your cabin cool off before entering. Always stay hydrated and keep cool drinks with you as you travel, especially if you’ve just come from playing sports or being exposed to the sun. Use your A/C. It’s not rocket science, really.

If you do find yourself experiencing the above-mentioned symptoms, do not continue driving. Pull over underneath some shade and request for medical assistance if needed, and do not attempt to drive yourself to the ER. The last thing you want is to pass out behind the wheel.

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According to the DOH, the longer treatment of an individual who’s suffered a heat stroke is delayed, the larger the chance of lasting damage to the brain or internal organs. Emergency measures include immediately getting the person to lie down in the shade with his or her legs elevated, immediate hydration, and using ice packs or water to cool the body. 

So, remember to stay cool inside your car this summer. Your life might depend on it.

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PHOTO: Drei Laurel
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