Another Way to Protect Your Car's Passengers: Window Tinting
Ever since I became a mother more than 20 years ago, I've recognized the value of having tinted windows. Once you start driving around with kids in the car, the importance of keeping the sun off their little faces becomes pretty much a no-brainer.
I've lived in the San Fernando Valley for 30 years now. Aside from places like Phoenix, Arizona; Dallas, Texas; and Orlando, Florida; the valley ranks pretty high as a Hellhole between June and August when the summer sun blazes at its hottest. It doesn't take long for a car's interior to climb to oven-like temperatures, and when you're toting a baby around, that heat can be more than inconvenient: It can be downright dangerous, especially to small children whose little bodies heat up three to five times faster than an adult’s.
According to an article at the Washington Post, "What most don’t understand is the sunlight isn’t directly heating the air inside a car. Instead, the sun’s shortwave radiation slips in through the windows and heats the objects in the car, including the dashboard, steering wheel, arm rests, child-seat, etc. These warm quickly, then heat the air in the car by means of conduction and convection."
And while one might think being protected from the sun is only important during the heat of summer, think again. “We all know that on hot days, cars get really hot,” said Jan Null, a certified meteorologist and professor at San Jose State University. “What I think people don’t really grasp is how hot they get on moderate days.” While the sun's burning UVB rays peak in intensity in the middle of the summer and wane in the winter, the intensity of UVA rays remains relatively high year-round, including in the winter.
"In some southern parts of the United States, the amount of UV radiation from the sun doesn’t drop a lot during winter months,” says Susan Chon, M.D., associate professor in the Department of Dermatology at MD Anderson. “The sun can be strong regardless of the season or temperature.”
As winter approaches, this is important for those of us who spend a lot of time in our cars: While glass effectively blocks most UVB rays, and laminated windshields are specially treated to block both UVA and UVB rays, a car’s side and rear windows can still allow more than 60 percent of the sun’s UVA rays to penetrate to your car’s interior -- and they're strong all year long. That's why SunSafeRx recommends that everybody use caution when sitting near windows, and stresses "If you are often near a window exposed to the sun, such as in your car, make sure the window has the right tinting to help block UVA rays."
Why do we need additional protection against UVA rays? UVA rays are present during all daylight hours all year round and depending upon the time of the year, can be 30 to 50 times more prevalent than UVB rays.
If you've got young children riding in the back seat, it's even more important to protect their tender skin from sun exposure through the side and rear windows. Because it's not just about being in the hot sun: even if you and your passenger are sitting in the front seat with the air conditioning blowing in your face, and even if you're driving a car with tri-zone air conditioning to cool rear-seat riders, your front-seat passenger and that little one in the back are still getting a full-fledged sunbath by the UVA rays sneaking in through the side and rear windows.
When a 3M representative contacted me early this summer to talk about the importance of protective automotive window films, I realized that, even though I've been driving her for more than six years, I still hadn't tinted the windows of my little Ford Fiesta, Sunshine.
We talked about how automotive window films are a great way to prevent UV ray exposure because they can block up to 99% of harmful UV rays, while providing a SPF of up to 1000. And, whether or not they're tinted, these protective window films can provide excellent heat rejection, which is an added bonus in especially sunny locations, and during the warmer months of the year. In fact, tinting your car's windows with today's modern protective films can reduce heat inside the car by up to 16 degrees (fahrenheit).
If you've seen cars with purple, bubbled tinting, know that those are low-quality tints that were poorly applied. Today's modern high-quality ceramic and nanotechnology window films are way better than the films you might remember from even just a few years ago. Protective window films from 3M offer limited lifetime guarantees covering the quality of their installation, and will never turn purple. When sold and installed by professional 3M™ Authorized Dealer Installers, these films are durable, designed to last, and virtually maintenance free. Some can even reinforce your windows, protecting them against shattering -- and increasing the amount of time and effort it could take a thief to enter your vehicle. Also, nonmetallized window films won’t interfere with mobile devices, GPS, or satellite radio reception.
My kids might be out of their car seats, but we still spend a fair amount of time in the car. "Sign me up," I said. "Let's check it out." I had a summer road trip vacation to Arizona lined up, and I figured that would be the perfect opportunity to really experience the sun- and heat-blocking value of 3M's protective window films.
He scheduled an appointment for Sunshine to get her windows tinted at AutoSkinz in Santa Clarita. And that is the subject of my next post, "Sunshine Visits AutoSkinz for Protective Window Tinting" so stay tuned...