When you think about being safe on the road, remaining hydrated may not top your list. It perhaps should, though. Temperatures can reach, on average, the mid to high 80s during the summer months here in Baltimore and across the state. So, you can surely benefit from assimilating tips for avoiding heat sickness while driving into your routine.
How do you keep yourself cool when driving in high temperatures? And, why must you do so? We’ll provide answers to these questions below.
Types of Heat-Related Illnesses
Our bodies don’t generally fail us without warning. They instead progressively show signs of distress.
Initial signs that you may notice warning you that your body isn’t handling hot temperatures very well is perspiration despite your lack of physical activity. You may also experience lightheadedness or extreme thirst as you become increasingly overcome by the heat, as dehydration sets in.
Two of the primary heat-related illnesses you have to worry about are:
Some signs that you may notice if you’re suffering from this condition include:
- Extreme sweating
- Physical exhaustion
- Stomach cramps
- Cold and clammy skin
- Lightheadedness or a headache
- A fast pulse
Individuals suffering from this condition may experience a sudden drop in their blood pressure followed by fainting. It’s always in an individual’s best interest to get checked out by a physician after suffering any signs of heat exhaustion.
This is perhaps the most serious type of heat-related condition. Individuals suffering from it may experience:
- Dizziness, confusion, or nausea
- Warm, red skin that can be either damp or dry to the touch
- A body temperature that exceeds 103 degrees Fahrenheit
Individuals suffering from heat stroke are vulnerable to suffering seizures and fainting and should always seek medical attention as soon as they start showing signs of distress.
Steps You Can Take to Avoid Becoming Overheated While on the Road
While it’s ideal for you to turn on your car’s air conditioning on some of the warmest days to help keep you cool, some people don’t have a properly functioning system. Even if they do, it may not perform well enough on a particularly hot day.
Motorists can benefit from doing the following on particularly hot days:
- Having their car’s air conditioner serviced and turning it on while in the car
- Planning their driving when the sun is less likely to be out in full force
- Taking a cool shower before moving into the warm weather
- Wearing lightly colored and loose-fitting clothing
- Leaving their windows cracked to allow some of the warm air to escape
- Taking breaks from driving to cool down
- Consuming large amounts of ice-cold fluids
- Carrying a wet towel and ice compress with them
It doesn’t hurt to purchase a shade to cover your windows if they aren’t tinted. If you place this on your windows when you’re not inside your vehicle, you will notice a greatly reduced temperature from what it would otherwise be if you hadn’t used it once you get back inside.
Why Must You Keep Yourself Cool While Driving on Hot Days?
Driving is an “all hands on board” type of activity. It’s important that your mind and body are completely engaged in what you’re doing to ensure that you travel safely from one destination to the next.
A study published in the Ergonomics journal in 1996 was one of the first studies to detail how even moderate heat exposure can affect a motorist’s vigilance levels when operating a vehicle. The study’s authors found that motorists traveling at a temperature of 80.6 were 50% more likely to miss traffic signals and 22% slower in responding to stimuli than drivers operating their vehicles when it was 69.8 degrees instead.
Instances of missed signals and delayed reactions were more notable among:
- Female motorists
- Ones under the age of 40 as they moved into their second hour on the road
- Those who traveled just over 37 mph
The researchers ultimately concluded that motorists tend to turn their attention away from trying to recognize things in their periphery vision the warmer the temperature is.
Additional studies regarding the impact heat has on motorists have highlighted how anyone with the following medical conditions is particularly vulnerable to heat-related illnesses:
- Weight concerns
- Underlying health conditions
- Limited physical stamina
You might have also heard stories in the news over the past few years regarding children and pets suffering life-altering injuries or dying after being left in a hot vehicle for even a short amount of time. This insight should send a message that it doesn’t take much for persistent heat to cause someone distress, leaving them vulnerable to causing a car accident.
The Impact of Hot Temperatures on Vehicle Performance
Now that you’re aware of how unsafe hot temps are for you as a motorist, it’s important you also know that your car doesn’t handle it very well either.
Some vehicle components that you need to have checked leading into the warmest months of the year or, at the very latest, as soon as warm weather sets in include:
- Your air conditioning system, including hoses and freon levels
- Fluid levels, including engine coolant
- Your battery
Coolant levels shouldn’t just be added to, but instead, old fluids should be completely flushed and replaced with fresh coolant with the correct mixture. Coolant is what keeps your radiator from cracking when it’s exposed to added pressure during warmer months. It doesn’t hurt to have hoses inspected for cracking either.
Also, tire pressure is more apt to increase the warmer temperatures are. This uptick in pressure can lead to tire failure, such as blowouts.
Poorly maintained vehicles can make motorists vulnerable to having their automobiles unexpectedly break down in traffic, making them vulnerable to becoming involved in a crash.
When Might You Need an Attorney’s Services After a Heat-Related Incident?
There’s always a risk when you head out on the road. A motorist might suffer an unexpected medical emergency at any time, but the risk is higher in hot weather conditions. The prospect of a rear-end accident occurring is also higher during the warmest months of the year.
Crashes resulting from heat sickness can be significant. Personal injury attorneys like ours at Belsky, Weinberg & Horowitz, LLC have experience helping clients recover compensation after accidents that could have been prevented. Schedule a consultation so we can go over how we can help you in your Baltimore case.
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