A water bottle almost cost this man his car. See what you can do to prevent the same tragedy. 

By Hannah Bruneman
August 14, 2018
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Image courtesy of Getty.
| Credit: In a car in a cup holder there is a bottle of water

You might want to check on that water bottle that's been rolling around on the floor of your car. It seems innocent, but it could actually cause a dangerous fire.

The problem occurs when sunlight hits a plastic bottle filled with water. The water magnifies the sunbeam and gets hot—fast. Light pouring into the bottle continues out the other end in a singular, strong beam. The heat and concentrated beam can be strong enough to catch a car seat on fire. You might have seen a similar effect with the sun and a magnifying glass when you were a child.

Employees from Idaho Power learned this the hard way and used Facebook to share an important message about fire safety. In the video, battery technician Dioni Amuchastegui explains a time he noticed smoke rising from his passenger seat. He moved a water bottle out of the way and saw two small marks where the sunlight had been burning a hole. Dioni was lucky enough to notice the small burn marks in his car before things escalated further.

However, the odds of Dioni’s car actually catching on fire aren’t as high as you might think. According to Live Science, cars are manufactured to be flame-resistant. The plastic materials that make up the seats prevent small flames from growing larger. However, that safety precaution isn’t fool-proof. If the bottle was sitting on a stack of newspapers, for example, a fire would be more likely to spread.

While all of this could be scary for water bottle hoarders, soda drinkers or iced coffee fanatics have less to worry about. In order for the sunlight to pass through the bottle, the liquid must be clear. To keep things safe, remember to always recycle your plastic water bottles when you’re done using them. Or, better yet, invest in a reusable bottle, which is better for the environment and your car.


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