Monday, 6 Dec 2021

What drivers shouldn’t leave in cars this winter – including wooden instruments

Temperatures are due to plunge this weekend as the nation braces once again for gritters on the roads and people saying they're starting to "feel a bit Christmassy".

In line with these annual winter rituals, drivers are being warned not to leave certain items in their cars to protect them from freezing temperatures.

Items left in cars can easily be damaged or damaging, so it's important to know which possessions can handle the lack of heat and which ones can't.

Electrical items are at particular risk, while aerosols and medications can be dangerous if left in very cold conditions.

GFS's Mark Barclay said: "As the weather gets colder, we should be mindful of what not to leave in our cars. Electronic devices such as phones and laptops should be brought inside, as should instruments and any pressurised items like aerosols and tinned goods.

"It's also important to remember what you should keep in your car, however. When driving in freezing conditions, take a 'winter car kit' with you.

"This should include a charger or battery pack for your phone (safe to store in a moving, warm car), and an ice scraper as well as a de-icer.

"Sunglasses can also be a good call in the glaring winter sun, but take them inside to prevent cracking once your car becomes cold after the engine is turned off.

"Lastly, take an empty fuel can with you when driving in winter. This way, if you run out of petrol, you can make your way to the nearest garage on foot, and refill your vehicle.

"By taking some simple measures and bringing things inside with you before they get damaged, you can have a safe and enjoyable time on the roads this winter."

GFS's top five things not to leave in your car in freezing temperatures

  • Inside abandoned house that's remained frozen in time since its owners died

1. Electronic devices

Ever had your phone turn off with plenty of battery on a hot or cold day? That's because it's built to protect its battery in extreme temperatures.

These extremities can be very perilous for electronics. Phones for example operate best between 0 and 35 degrees, with temperatures on either side having the potential to be damaging for them.

The solution is to only have electronics in a car that you are using. When you get out of the car make sure you bring all your electronics like phones and laptops with you.

2. Medications

Many medications won't necessarily become dangerous when they are left in the cold. But it can be difficult to work out if they are in prime condition to be used.

Insulin has more serious implications: unopened vials of insulin should be stored in the fridge and once opened they should be kept at room temperature. If insulin freezes it will become ineffective and won't top-up blood sugar levels as it should.

Insulin that has frozen but then thawed must still be discarded, so make sure you bring it in from the cold in the same way you would your electrical goods.

3. Pressurised aerosols and tinned food

In extremely cold weather they can become destabilised and explode.

The same goes for tinned foods, as the water used to preserve them can expand upon freezing, leading to an increase of pressure and an explosion.

The same applies for keeping these items in a garage or shed.

4. Wooden musical instruments

This one might seem a little odd to those who don't play, but they can be affected by ambient temperatures due to cold temperatures causing the wood to constrict.

This is why they often fall out of tune in the winter months.

If you leave them in cold cars for too long it can lead the wood to crack, so again be sure to bring them inside and when you do, don't put them right next to the radiator as the extreme change in temperature can be damaging for them.

5. Keep your fuel tank full of petrol

This one is admittedly much easier said than done given the mind-numbing ques that have been snaking out of petrol stations up and down the country but making sure your car has more than half a tank will help ensure your fuel doesn't freeze.

If you're looking to avoid a nasty surprise in the morning, this is an important precaution to take.

While you're there, give your tyre pressures as a check, as these can drop in the cold weather as well.

On top of all this, its important to carry an emergency winter kit in your car, including a de-icer and a battery pack.

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