Handy List Of Things You Should Not Leave In Your Car In This Extreme Cold

The polar vortex is swooping down from the arctic this week, blanketing us with frigid temperatures and howling winds.  As temperatures continue to drop, you might want to take a look at your car. Here are some things you shouldn’t leave inside for a considerable length of time: 

Cellphones – Apple advises against storing the iPhone or iPad at temperatures below negative-4 degrees, and they shouldn’t be operated at temperatures lower than 32 degrees. There are similar recommendations for Samsung phones and other electronics. Lithium-ion batteries popular in cellphones are the most vulnerable component to cold. They can stop working in extreme cold but should be OK once you get back indoors. However, repeated exposure to subzero temperatures can cause problems.

Soda or beer – Water expands when it freezes. And for canned liquids under pressure, that can mean explosion. The freeze temperature for Coca-Cola is 30 degrees, and the temperature for beer that’s 5 percent alcohol by volume is 27 degrees (higher-alcohol beers freeze at lower temperatures).

Musical instruments – Things contract when they freeze, so this can cause some instruments to go out of tune.  More seriously, damage can be done when an instrument shrinks as a result of the cold air.  If your instrument is made of real wood, the cold air can cause cracking, which is very expensive to repair.

Eggs – Eggs shouldn’t be allowed to freeze in their shells; if that happens, throw away any cracked eggs.  Keep the un-cracked ones frozen, and move them to the refrigerator before use.  These can be hard cooked successfully, but other uses may be limited.  That’s because freezing causes the yolk to become thick and syrupy so it will not flow like an unfrozen yolk or blend very well with the egg white or other ingredients.

Canned foods – Letting a can of beans freeze allows for the water to freeze and expand in a similar way to beer and soda. The USDA advises that this can result in a broken seal, causing spoilage. If canned food freezes, allow it to thaw in a refrigerator.

Medication – If you’re visiting a pharmacy during the deep freeze, consider that some medications can be affected by low temperatures.  Drugs like insulin can lose their effectiveness if they freeze.  The same goes for any so-called suspended medication that has to be shaken before use.

Loved ones – This should be obvious. But it’s worth noting that children and elderly people can be more susceptible to hypothermia at cold temperatures, with symptoms such as shivering, confusion and exhaustion, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. So even limited amounts of time in an unheated vehicle could be dangerous. The same goes for pets.

A low gas tank – Keeping a fuel tank more than half-full helps to prevent fuel lines from freezing.  It’s also a good idea to check fluids, such as antifreeze. The cold can affect tire pressure.

Photo Credit: NY Post – photographer not identified

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Scott Fox
Scott Fox