The Investigators: Turning down the heat

The Investigators: Turning down the heat
(Source: WAFB)
(Source: WAFB)
(Source: WAFB)
(Source: WAFB)
(Source: WAFB)
(Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - When it feels like it's in the 100's outside, it could be any searing, subtropical southern Louisiana summer.

Even though the actual mercury reading rarely nudges into the triple digit, the combo of heat and humidity makes it feel brutal. It also gives us the perfect opportunity to test something that claims to greatly reduce how hot it can get inside your car, especially when left in the sun.

The product is window tinting, and the majority of cars and trucks are tinted. A certain type of tinting, though, got our attention which led us to our test.

We took two cars which were identical except in the tint used and decided to see for ourselves. One car has a standard, factory tint, while the other features one the manufacturer claims is revolutionizing the industry. We will soon find out with the cars parked side by side in the sun.

To learn the science that goes into tinting, Burns Mulhearn, the president of Geoshield, turned on a heat lamp to 400 BTU's and delivered a demonstration. Geoshield is the company making the claims about its ceramic-based tinting compared to the more typical, metallic-based tinting.

Geoshield is a business that is homegrown, hatched at LSU's Innovation Park. Mulhearn said anything with windows, can use his product. Even Tiger Stadium's windows are protected with the ceramic technology that we will soon put to the test.

Mulhearn said Geoshield's 'Pronano' blocks heat, saves you money and is eco-friendly.

He held a piece of dark-tinted glass, the type seen commonly in a limousine, next to the heat lamp. A thermal meter read 336, meaning almost all the heat pours through that dark-tinted glass. He then held up a piece of Pronano tinted glass. "It goes down to 37," Mulhearn said.

He showing that the Geoshield glass, tinted with ceramic particles, repels a high level of the solar heat and remains comfortable to the touch. That dark limousine glass? The tinting particles are metallic, not ceramic, which Mulhearn said is the difference.

"Nanoceramic technology allows visible light to pass through the glass while selectively filtering the infrared heat," Mulhearn explained.

A local auto accessory shop, CSC Customs, on Airline Highway recently began selling 'Pronano.'

"I've been around film for 20 years and until a few weeks ago was not fully aware of this product," said shop owner Chris Wagley.

In our head-to-head test, we put two car seats and two thermometers in each car and drove them out under the sun. We tested them for three days at various lengths of time. We looked at temperature readings after 10 minutes, 20 minutes, an hour, two hours, and three hours.

It's what happened in the first 10 minutes that really got our attention. Inside the car tinted with the ceramic-based 'Pronano' film, the temperatures rose to about 82 degrees after 10 minutes. The car with the more common metallic-based factory tint? The mercury was more than 25 degrees hotter at just under 110 degrees.

East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner Dr. Beau Clark said it typically only takes 10 minutes for a car to reach 110, as our tests showed. He said, "105, 106, 107, 110 degrees, now you are getting incompatible with life because organs won't work."

This ultimate greenhouse effect is what can doom an innocent child left strapped in a car seat. Temperatures won't stop at 110. They'll keep soaring above 120, but the tragic damage is already done.

Jeremy Hurst, a captain with the St. George Fire Department, has seen the worst in his line of work. He said with his children, who are ages 5 and 2, "even when I d rop them off, I give a glance. I know they're not there, but I just want to make sure."

Hurst said a car window tint that can reduce the heat inside a car is a good idea, though he is quick to point out, there's never a reason to leave a child or animal inside a car as it sits under the hot sun.

"Leave yourself a note on the dashboard," Hurst urged. "Do whatever it takes to make your safety routine a safety habit."

The following are links with more regarding kids and hot cars:

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