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Prepare for scorching temperatures

Weather advisories were issued for parts of the Northern and Western Cape advising of temperatures as high as 40°C. Temperatures this high create dangerous driving conditions. Not only does it pose a risk to your health and wellbeing but if temperatures are high enough it can even damage your vehicle.

The CEO of MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert, advises reducing the amount of time spent in the car. “Life, however, does carry on despite the weather so avoiding the car completely is often impossible. In these instances, take precautions to ensure you do not suffer from heatstroke or have an accident.”

  • Avoid travelling during peak hours where you may be stationary in congestion. Leave earlier or later to avoid gridlocked traffic.
  • Use your air-conditioner. Open windows cannot regulate the temperature as well as an aircon. If it is not working, seriously reconsider driving during peak heat times.
  • Stay hydrated. Symptoms of dehydration include dizziness, lack of energy and even fainting which become even more dangerous if it occurs while driving. If you think you are dehydrated, rather find somewhere safe to stop and seek assistance than continue.
  • Keep your car maintenance up-to-date. Ensure your car has enough coolant to handle the higher temperatures and check it regularly.
  • Inflate your tyres correctly. Underinflated tyres cause more friction and therefore heat. Additionally, you are at risk of a blow out with overinflated tyres as air expands with heat.
  • If your engine starts to overheat, pull over immediately and call for assistance. Driving further can cause serious damage to your car.
  • Wear sunglasses while driving to protect your eyes from UV rays. Polarised lenses are most effective at reducing glare.
  • Park in a shady spot to reduce the interior temperature upon return. The steering wheel and seats can easily reach temperatures well over 40° With exterior temperatures of 35°C, the interior can reach 47°C in just an hour. Where exterior temperatures are 40°C, the interior can soar to 63°C in an hour.

It goes without saying that people or animals should never wait in a car even if you are just ‘running in.’ “As illustrated above, vehicle temperatures can reach deadly levels in less than an hour, even without a heat wave. Within that time an adult can suffer third degree burns and a child can die. Even cars parked in the shade are dangerous to sit in. Never leave your child or pet in the car, even if only for few minutes.

“Whatever weather condition you encounter on the roads this summer, remember to always employ defensive driving techniques along with these tips to ensure you arrive home safely tonight,” says Herbert.

Tristan Wiggill
Special Features Editor at Business Fleet Africa