Traveling in Extreme Heat

It’s summer and many of us will be hitting the road to travel. Unfortunately, summer often equals extreme heat in many states across America. In fact, many cities have already seen record highs and summer hasn’t even officially started yet. Here are some tips that you can use for your next road trip for your car and for you and the travelers on your trip.

Overheated cars are often an everyday occurrence along the highways of America. There are a few things you should have checked before you hit the road. Rubber parts are prone to failure when temperatures rise so make sure to have your hoses, belts and tires checked out and replaced it needed. Also make sure to check your coolant levels and your AC system to make sure that everything is running properly. Preventative maintenance is the best solution for traveling in any weather.

A few ways to prevent overheating while driving include:
(Provided by the California DMV)

1. Make sure to watch your temperature gauge to see if it is rising
2. Avoid driving at high speeds for long periods of time
3. Use a low gear in “creeping” traffic
4. Turn off your AC if you notice your car overheating

Not only do you need to take care of your car during extreme heat but also the travelers on your trip. A car can reach 120 degrees in minutes so it is important to not leave pets or individuals in your car. Make sure that you pack  a cooler of drinking water on ice that you can use before you hit the road to keep your passengers hydrated. Dress in layers so that as temperatures rise, you can adjust to the temperature changes. Always pack sunscreen, shades, and hats to help protect everyone from the sun.

If you or one of your fellow travelers does experience heatstroke, here are some first aid tips to follow from about.com:

  1. Have the person lie down in a cool place. Elevate the person’s feet about 12 inches.
  2. Apply cool, wet cloths (or cool water directly) to the person’s skin and use a fan to lower body temperature. Place cold compresses on the person’s neck, groin, and armpits.
  3. If alert, give the person beverages to sip (such as Gatorade), or make a salted drink by adding a teaspoon of salt per quart of water. Give a half cup every 15 minutes. Cool water will do if salt beverages are not available.
  4. For muscle cramps, give beverages as above and massage affected muscles gently, but firmly, until they relax.
  5. If the person shows signs of shock (bluish lips and fingernails and decreased alertness, starts having seizures, or loses consciousness, call 911 and administer first aid accordingly.

Do Not:

  • DO NOT underestimate the seriousness of heat illness, especially if the person is a child, elderly, or injured.
  • DO NOT give the person medications that are used to treat fever (such as aspirin or acetaminophen). They will not help, and they may be harmful.
  • DO NOT give the person salt tablets.
  • DO NOT give the person liquids that contain alcohol or caffeine. They will interfere with the body’s ability to control its internal temperature.
  • DO NOT use alcohol rubs on the person’s skin.
  • DO NOT give the person anything by mouth (not even salted drinks) if the person is vomiting or unconscious.

Call immediately for emergency medical assistance if:

Call 911 if:

  • The person loses consciousness at any time.
  • There is any other change in the person’s alertness (for example, confusion or seizures).
  • The person has a fever over 102F.
  • Other symptoms of heat stroke are present (like rapid pulse or rapid breathing).
  • The person’s condition does not improve, or worsens despite treatment.

Summer is the perfect time for travel, just make sure to be prepared for anything that may come along your way. What steps do you take to prepare for a summer road trip?

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