Whether it’s driving to work, soccer practice or to the in-laws, U.S. drivers average 17,600 minutes in their car each year, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. That’s 293 hours! What’s more, passengers spend a significant portion alongside their driving companions. So, review our checklist to see how well your car is packed for your daily commute or the road trip ahead:
While the windshield may block some UV rays, door windows offer limited protection. As a result, most skin cancers occur on the left side of the face and body, the driver’s side. Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen (UVA and UVB) before getting into the driver’s seat. Experts recommend water-resistant SPF 30+ protection. For the safest protection, mineral-based sunscreens with Zinc Oxide or Titanium Dioxide (or a combination of the two) offer natural sun blockers.
Think of sunglasses as your sunscreen for the eyes. Keep a spare pair in the car for yourself and passengers. Sunlight makes you squint, and that movement contributes to skin wrinkling, but, more importantly, eyes daily exposure to UV rays causes macular degeneration and cataracts. And, the latest news from The Skin Cancer Foundation indicates 5-10% of all skin cancers are eyelid cancers, and the Melanoma Research Foundation points to cases of ocular melanoma. To protect vision health, doctors recommend sunglasses with 100% UV protection.
Whether for rain or shine, a compact travel UV umbrella can be a live saver. Small enough to put in a seat back pocket or a glove box, these little pop-up protectors can help you face whatever Mother Nature has up her sleeve.
With those assertive UVA rays coming through car windows, always leave a long sleeve UPF 50+ hoodie or wrap in the car to cover arms. If this isn’t suitable for your everyday life, consider easy alternatives like UPF 50+ sun sleeves or sun gloves that are convenient and quickly removable hand and arm coverage whenever you get behind the wheel.
“Wearing long sleeve clothing, or sunscreen that is ‘broad spectrum’ would be extremely effective and seems indicated on long drives on sunny days.”
Have a hat at-the-ready for when you reach your destination. Essential to sun safe practices for protecting your scalp, experts recommend a 3” brim or larger. For every inch of brim, you reduce your lifetime risk of skin cancer by 10%. So, a 6″ brim means a 60% risk reduction.
- Phone Charger
In the spirit of automotive preparedness, a phone charger can be a new best friend. In case you need to make a roadside emergency call or even to alert the dog sitter that you’re running late, ensuring you have a full battery on-the-go is essential today. If you have teens driving, insist on a charger so they can update you on whereabouts.
- Snacks & Water
Having snacks and water on hand to console kids or boost your own energy makes good sense. Staples that hold up in the car, particularly in extreme temperatures, include granola bars, nuts, trail mix and jerky. If possible, keep a small travel-size cooler or tote in the back to stash snacks and a supply of bottled water. Then mark your calendar to replenish your stores every couple of weeks.
Light blankets are multi-purpose pieces with incredible versatility. Given how UV rays penetrate car windows, a lap blanket can protect upper leg skin while driving. Additionally, on chilly days, it can warm you or your passengers – and it can also block radiant heat coming through windows and overheating skin. People living in snow belt states know to carry a heavy blanket in the trunk for wintery days, and a lightweight UPF 50+ sun blanket for year-round leg coverage when wearing dresses, skirts or shorts.