Yes, this sounds about as counterintuitive as being told that the best way to help a choking victim is to shove more food down their throat in order to dislodge the obstructing piece of ham.
It’s true, though. Water in your car is, surprisingly, a fire hazard. More specifically, plastic water bottles are a fire hazard. If direct sunlight catches full plastic bottles at the right angle they basically turn into a magnifying glass, and your Toyota Corolla’s car seats and other surfaces become the ant beneath its fiery beam. This according to the Midwest City, Oklahoma Fire Department.
“The sunlight will come through, when it’s filled with liquid, and act as a magnifying glass as you would with regular optics,” said David Richardson with the Midwest Fire Department.
“It uses the liquid and the clear material to develop a focused beam and sure enough, it can actually cause a fire, a combustion,” said Richardson.
In a test at the Midwest City Fire Department, sunlight magnified through a bottle of water reached 250 degrees.
The extra heat can focus on a car’s interior materials, such as fabrics seats or mats, and potentially set them on fire.
It’s not hard to imagine somebody driving to a 4th of July celebration with a backseat full of fireworks and water bottles (and some whiskey and tequila), parking to grab some more party supplies, and coming back to find a rainbow of patriotism exploding out of their minivan in the grocery store parking lot. To be honest that’d be worth paying to see, assuming no one got hurt.
The Idaho Power Company put out a Facebook post demonstrating the dangers that water bottles pose when in your car. It’s really real.
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It doesn’t even have to be a hot car! It happened to this guy while he was in his car with the A/C going.
This post was originally published on August 19, 2018.