Don't Make This Mistake When You're in Your Car, the CDC Says

Not doing this one thing could put you more at risk of catching coronavirus, according to the CDC.

With states across the country starting to reopen, many people are heading out of the house for a change of scenery after months in lockdown. That means you may be spending more time in your car than you have recently. But as you hop in your car for a quick errand or to head to a recently reopened beach, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) wants to make sure you're not making this critical mistake, especially as temperatures rise: turning your A/C on recirculation mode.

According to the CDC, when you get in a car, you want to do your due diligence to "improve the ventilation" by "setting the air ventilation/air conditioning on non-recirculation mode" to "bring in fresh outside air."

Pre-coronavirus, when the weather got hot and you'd start using your car's air conditioning, you would typically want to hit the air recirculation button. It's the button that pictures a car with an arrow inside it. This setting is great for summertime because it keeps your car nice and cool. According to World Class Auto Service, the recirculation button "recirculates the kind-of-cool air that you get from the A/C when you first turn it on."

Recirculation button car air conditioner

However, while the coronavirus pandemic persists, recirculating air is not the safest idea. We know that air conditioners can potentially spread coronavirus in your home, in restaurants, and in other enclosed spaces, so the same is possible in your car. Leaving your air conditioning on recirculation mode could be dangerous if there are contaminated droplets in your vehicle from objects brought inside or if someone in the car is unknowingly—or knowingly—positive for COVID-19.

Switching to non-recirculation mode ensures your car is funneling fresh air from outside into the car. While the car is in non-recirculation mode, it may not get as cool—because it is pulling fresh air from outside rather than recycling the already chilled air in the car—but it lowers the risk of transmitting the coronavirus. And to learn what other mistakes you might be making when you head for a drive, check out 7 Mistakes You're Making Every Time You Get in Your Car.

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