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June 18, 2024

Here's how to protect phones, laptops and cars from damage in extreme heat

Exposing electronics to intense weather can cause batteries to degrade and internal components to experience long-term harm.

Technology Electronics
Electronics heat Unsplash Andrea Piacquadio/Pexels

Extreme heat conditions can affect personal electronics such as smartphones, tablets and laptops. It is recommended to avoid using these devices in climates exceeding 95 degrees.

While many people are taking measures to protect themselves from the extreme heat wave striking much of the country, it's easy to forget that personal devices need protection, too.

Working outdoors on a laptop or parking a car on the street during these sweltering conditions could lead to long-term harm of these possessions. Batteries may degrade and internal components could experience permanent damage.

MORE: As Philly prepares for its first heat wave of the year, here's where to stay cool

Here are some tips on what you can do during intense hot weather.

Protecting electronics

Laptops, smartphones, tablets and portable video game consoles are designed to operate in specific temperatures, with most laptops containing cooling fans. The recommended high temperature for most modern electronics is 95 degrees, and while some devices can withstand warmer weather, it's best to not press your luck.

Excessive heat can lead these devices to slow down their processors as they work harder. If devices regularly overheat, this could permanently affect their battery capacity, shortening their lifespans. In extreme cases, heat can even cause batteries to expand, leak or even explode.

First, if you bring any of these devices outdoors, keep them out of direct sunlight and limit your usage. And be sure not to leave any of them in your car on a hot day.

Maintain a constant airflow for these devices, avoid blocking any vents and keep them clean of dust. Laptop users can also consider external fans or cooling pads to dissipate heat.

It's also worth stopping devices from doing too much work by closing applications. Smartphone users are also advised to keep their phones charged to a lower level such as 60-80% battery, as charging your phone to full battery uses additional voltage and can contribute to thermal runaway, a hazardous phenomenon where chemical reactions lead to batteries expanding or even catching on fire.

Protecting vehicles

Similar to electronic devices, a car and its parts can receive damage in multiple forms under extreme heat. Car batteries can be subject to damage and degradation. 

On a cosmetic level, the heat can affect a car's paint job or damage the upholstery. High temperatures can also cause engine oils to become thinner and tire pressure to increase. 

Drivers should park in the shade when possible. Using a windshield cover can also reduce the cabin and dashboard temperature, and a car cover can protect the exterior from UV rays, preventing damage to the paint and surfaces.

It's also important to monitor the engine temperature and check tire pressure, along with levels of oil, transmission fluid and brake fluid. Also check your car battery for any corrosion, dirt or damage. And when traveling, make sure you have enough fuel — the last thing you want to do is run out of gas in the scorching heat.