Bring it in From the Cold

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Sure, it can be convenient to keep frequently used items in the car instead of repeatedly dragging them in and out of the house. But not everything can withstand winter’s freezing temperatures. Here are some things that shouldn’t be left in your car in winter (and why):
 

ELECTRONICS

Freezing temperatures can damage laptop computers, tablets and cell phones. Lithium-ion batteries that stop working in the cold will usually perk back up when they’ve been warmed, but repeated exposure to extreme temperatures can reduce their ability to hold a charge. And because moving a computer to a warm location can cause internal condensation that may damage it if you use it right away, let it warm up for a few minutes before turning it on.
 

WINDSHIELD WASHER FLUID

Most windshield washer fluids contain chemicals that prevent them from freezing. But some brands of bug wash (and homemade vinegar-and-water mixes) can freeze if the temperature drops low enough. If the fluid freezes, it will expand and could crack your washer fluid reservoir. So before it gets too cold outside, make sure you’re using fluid that can withstand the chill without freezing.

 

MEDICATIONS

Whether prescription or over-the-counter, some drugs can be affected by extreme cold. Freezing can reduce their potency, causing ingredients to physically separate or even change the molecular form of the medication. When in doubt, check the label for storage information and talk to your pharmacist about medications that may have been exposed to cold temperatures.
 

BEVERAGES

If it’s below freezing outside and you leave canned or bottled drinks in your car, you may come back to a big mess. The liquids will expand when they freeze, and the cans or bottles could explode.
 

MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS

Freezing temperatures can make an instrument contract, which can cause it to go out of tune. In some cases—for example, if the instrument is made of wood—cold, dry air can cause it to crack. When an instrument has been left in a cold car, warm it up gradually.

 

10 Things You Should Keep in Your Car's Emergency Kit

These items can help you deal with winter’s unique challenges when you’re on the road.

  • Sturdy ice scraper
  • Snow shovel
  • Warm blankets
  • Rock salt, sand or kitty litter
  • Flashlight
  • Portable phone charger
  • Jumper cables
  • Snacks
  • First-aid kit
  • Hazard triangles or LED flashers

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