Hot Weather Accidents
by Ivy Burke
It’s over one hundred degrees out, and you’ve just crashed your car. What should you do now? Are you prepared?
There is a lot advice out there for drivers who have accidents during the winter. Although this is helpful, it’s important to remember that hot weather presents its own set of dangers and challenges. With summer temperatures breaking records all over the world in the last few years, and showing no signs of stopping, the risks associated with hot weather deserves recognition. Here are a few things you can do to make sure you’re prepared for a hot weather accident.
Extreme heat is dangerous. If you’re stuck outside in hundred-plus weather after an accident, remember these tips:
Learn to identify heat exhaustion and heat stroke. The latter is the more severe of the two.
- Heat exhaustion, according to the CDC, can involve “Heavy sweating; weakness; cold, pale, clammy skin; fast, weak pulse; nausea or vomiting; and fainting.”
- Heat stroke may involve “high body temperature (above 103 degrees Fahrenheit); hot, red, dry, or moist skin; rapid and strong pulse; and possible unconsciousness.”
- If you think you have exhaustion, get cool and drink lots of water. Seek medical attention for vomiting.
- If you think you have heat stroke, call 911, get cool. CDC says to “NOT give fluids.”
- Remember, your health is more important than your car. If you need medical treatment, do so and worry about your accident later.
Car Maintenance Tips
Take care of your car ahead of time.
- Check your tires. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration advises you to maintain good, well-aired tires. Heat can break down tires and lead to accidents.
- Keep an eye on your regular maintenance. You don’t want a simple thing like forgetting routine maintenance to cause your car to break down in the heat. Check your oil, keep up with check-ups, etc.
- Don’t forget the basic. Running out of gas might not cause an accident per se, but it could leave you stranded in the heat. Don’t goof up on something so preventable.
The best way to deal with a hot weather accident is to avoid it in the first place. Summer driving has some unique dangers, including:
- Road congestion. More people drive in summer. What’s more, many of these drivers will be inexperienced. Teenagers and tourists don’t know the roads as well locals do. Watch out for other drivers. Don’t put yourself on autopilot or assume everyone else will do the right thing. People make mistakes.
- Road conditions. Construction makes summer driving much more difficult. Motorists are forced through unfamiliar roads, and into detours which were not always planned with heavy traffic in mind. Drive carefully through these detours.
- Driver attitudes. The heat will affect your mood. Some people get irritable, other start to feel lazy. Both responses make for worse driving. And remember, reckless driving isn’t just a middle-of-the-night, drunk driving problem. In fact, most accidents take place during “ideal conditions,” according to Mushkatel, Robbins & Becker. Always, be careful of the other guy.