PSA: Leaving Water Bottles In Your Hot Car Can Be Dangerous

by Christina Marfice
Image via Shutterstock

Viral video warns that leaving a water bottle in a hot car is surprisingly dangerous

When you’ve got a car full of groceries, a kid in a car seat, or coolers and towels from the day’s picnic or beach trip to schlep inside, how easy is it to forget a water bottle on the seat of your car? According to one man’s surprising viral video, you should do your best to schlep those water bottles in too.

A battery technician from Boise-based power company Idaho Power is warning about how unexpectedly dangerous that can be. In a video posted to the company’s Facebook page, Dioni Amuchastegui explained how he was taking an early lunch break and sitting in his company truck when he noticed smoke coming from near the vehicle’s center console. After a little investigating, he realized a forgotten water bottle in the center of the seat was literally sparking a fire inside the truck.

“I looked over and noticed light was being refracted through a water bottle and starting to catch the seat on fire,” Amuchastegui explained. In the video, two burn marks can be seen on the seat of the truck from that day.

“I was a little bit surprised. I actually had to do a double take,” he says. “I checked it again and sure enough, it was super hot. I even stuck my hand under the light. Hard to believe at first, but we tested it again and registered the heat and it was hot enough to start burning the hole through the seat.”

He concluded by echoing all of our thoughts at this point: “It’s not something you really expect, having a water bottle catch your chair on fire.”

Idaho Power employees do a little experiment with a water bottle at the end of the video, showing that light refracted through a water bottle in a hot car creates a hotspot well over 200 degrees.

According to the Oklahoma Midwest City Fire Department, who recently issued a similar warning, the actual risk of sparking a car fire with a water bottle is pretty low. But it’s still possible, as the department showed with an experiment that registered sunlight refracted through a water bottle in a car at 250 degrees.

Even though it’s unlikely to happen, the best way to protect yourself and your car is to just keep water bottles out of vehicles when they’re not in use.