Cars get very hot, even when parked in the shade with the windows cracked. Which is why hot car deaths occur all too often. But the source of all that heat is the sun, and sunlight can be used for a positive purpose: to kill coronavirus on surfaces, such as packages and face masks.
According to Meteorologist Jan Null, the temperature inside a car rises 19°F the first 10 minutes, rising to as much as 55° within 2-4 hours. In other words, hot enough to kill a virus. According to University of Georgia Professor Travis Glenn, “Coronavirus lives a few days on many surfaces at room temperature, but it dies far faster at higher temperatures. If you heat a material up to 130 degrees F, which is the high setting on a dryer or a very low oven setting, you only need about 20 minutes to kill greater than 99.99% of the virus.”
But you can’t throw a package in a clothes dryer, right? Which is why engineer and STEM ambassador Dr. Calvin Mackie suggested to Forbes Science Writer Marshall Shepherd that the car works as an efficient and gentle substitute, killing viruses on surfaces. “I keep my mask on the dashboard of my car for this reason.”
In the vast majority of cases, there is no need to wear a face mask inside one’s car. Instead, keep your mask on the dashboard, at the ready, for when you leave your car for work or errands. Your mask will always be clean and sanitary for use. Travis Glenn suggests alternating use between two masks in this manner. “So, you can either rotate two masks, leaving one in the car while you shop, or just leave your mask in your car when you get home, as long as you’re parking someplace warm,” says Glenn.
Babies, of course, should never be left in a car, not for a minute, not even in the shade. So make sure you download the free Kars4Kids Safety app to help keep baby safe. As for face masks and non-heat-sensitive packages, feel free to leave them in your car. They’ll be safe and ready to handle without any lingering hint of coronavirus within half an hour or so.