Coping with extreme heat and weather conditions
Australia has had an extraordinary hot start to summer with record temperatures peaking in the high 40’s in some regions. With more hot weather to come, we look at some simple tips to help keep the driver, cargo and vehicle safe.
Driving in the heat
Extreme heat can affect the road surface making it sticky and slowing down vehicles. Driving at night reduces the risks but that is not practical for many operators.
The most common effects of a truck overheating are burst radiators and hoses, belts stretch, pulleys fail and tyres puncture or delaminate more frequently.
Be diligent when checking tyres, pulleys and belts
Ensure air conditioning and ventilation vents are kept clear
Check oil and water levels frequently
Mechanical breakdowns and air conditioning failure can pose a real threat to the driver. Even if you’re not undertaking a long haul trip it’s important to be prepared for hot weather and emergencies.
-Take extra snacks and water. In hot weather it’s more important than ever to take regular breaks, eat regularly and drink enough fluids.
-Overheating can cause loss of concentration and focus making you a threat to yourself and other road users.
-Truck drivers are often the first on the scene of breakdowns or accidents. Having extra supplies means you can look after yourself and offer support to others in an emergency.
-Drink plenty of fluids. In very hot weather people dehydrate when fluid intake is insufficient to replace fluids lost. Symptoms of dehydration include:
--Dry mouth, lips and tongue
--Dark urine, and not so much of it
--Feeling dizzy or light-headed, particularly when standing up
-Emergency treatment for dehydration can be made by dissolving 6 teaspoons of sugar with half a teaspoon of salt into a one litre of bottle water. Avoid alcohol or caffeinated drinks.
-Carry spares a tool kit and first aid supplies for emergencies and keep an umbrella or tarp onboard to provide shade in an emergency.
Keep in touch
Two way radio and a mobile phone are essential equipment for keeping in touch with other road users and your base. For drivers on remote routes it’s vital to prepare a regular contact plan and stick to it. This ensures someone else knows your location at a specific time and if you don’t call in, help can be sought before problems escalate.
-Always carry a mobile phone and charger
-Carry an alternative sim card or satellite phone if coverage is patchy
-Remember to phone in at pre-arranged times
-Have an emergency plan in place
Tune into local radio for emergency updates
Extreme weather conditions can cause bushfires. Regularly check local radio for weather and emergency services for updates. ABC Emergency plays an important role during emergencies. Local radio stations remain on air during natural disasters broadcasting emergency warnings and alerts relevant to the area.