Drivers can’t afford to be laid up at home with health problems in the summer months with so much freight out there to haul. However, it’s easier than you think to succumb to heat exhaustion or heatstroke while driving a rig in summer. Here are some smart trucking tips to keep you cool in the hottest driving conditions.
Start Drinking Before Summer Trips
Did you know that it’s easier for your body to stay hydrated in dry conditions if you start boosting your water intake in advance? When you know you’ll be hitting the road for New Mexico, Arizona, or any other hot, arid region this summer, increase your water intake as soon as you can.
You may have to use the restroom more often when you add more fluids to your diet. The extra hassle is worth it to protect your body from heat-related problems.
Continue hydrating yourself throughout your trips in hot locations to maintain alertness and aid your body in fighting off the effects of high heat conditions. Keep your water bottle or other drinks close at hand in the cab, so you can take a drink whenever you like.
Know the Right Stuff to Drink
Choose water to quench your thirst whenever possible. Clean, plain water is refreshing and has no sugars or carbs to interfere with your metabolism.
Other healthy and hydrating drink and snack choices include the following:
- Plain milk
- Fruit-infused water
- Unsweetened fruit juice
- Sports beverage
- Unsweetened tea
- Coconut water
- Soy, coconut, or almond milk
Soft drinks are some of the worst beverage choices to hydrate your body, even though an ice-cold cola feels refreshing as you swallow the frosty fluid from the can or bottle. The caffeine, sodium, and sugar in many soft drinks make you thirstier because these ingredients actually dehydrate your system.
Alcohol is another no-no in high-heat situations, even when you’re off the clock. When you drink a beer or shot of liquor, the alcohol removes fluid from your cells rather than replacing lost fluids. Sweet tea, high-sugar energy drinks, flavored milk, and smoothies are also poor choices when you need to hydrate your body for the long haul.
Keep Your Truck’s AC in Good Working Order
Heat-related illnesses (and deaths) are preventable when good air conditioning (AC) is available. AC is the top protector of people who are at risk of heat-related problems.
If your semi truck’s AC system isn’t working or doesn’t work properly at idle, consult with your mechanic or fleet maintenance staff to fix the AC problem. When your delivery routes take you through hot regions of the country, purchase all future trucks with proper AC systems for both the cab and sleeper sections.
If you get stuck in a hot zone with no air conditioning, make frequent stops to lower your body temperature in air-conditioned places. Rest areas, malls, and truck stops are usually cool indoor places with truck parking and ample seating. Give yourself time to cool off completely before moving along, so you don’t put yourself at risk of getting dizzy or disoriented from the heat while driving.
Know the Signs of Serious Heat-Related Illness
Heat can cause serious illness and even death in otherwise healthy persons. If you must load and unload freight or do other heavy work in hot conditions, you could succumb to a heat-related illness before you realize how sick you are. Two risky heat-related conditions are heat exhaustion and heatstroke.
Heat exhaustion is a serious medical problem that may or may not require medical attention. Signs of heat exhaustion include the following symptoms:
- Sweating profusely
- Skin that’s cold and clammy
- Pulse that’s faint and rapid
- Cramps in stomach and/or muscles
- Dizziness and headache
- Sick to the stomach
If you or another worker is showing the above signs of heat exhaustion, move the affected person to a cool spot, loosen their garments, and apply cold compresses. The person should take small sips of water and seek professional medical care if they’re vomiting or if symptoms continue past an hour.
Heatstroke is a medical emergency and always requires immediate medical care. Signs of heatstroke include the following:
- Body temperature above 103 degrees Fahrenheit
- Skin that’s hot to the touch
- Skin that’s red; skin that’s dry or damp
- Dizziness and nausea
- Loss of consciousness
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, you should move a person suffering from heatstroke to a cool location while another person (or you if you’re alone) contacts 911. Use cold, wet cloths to help lower the heat-affected person’s body temperature or assist the heat-affected person with a cool bath until first responders are on the scene. Never give a person with heatstroke a sip of water.
If you are looking to replace your current truck with one with better air conditioning, contact Arrow Truck Sales today to find the right rig. Choose your next comfy truck from our wide selection of models, including those with high-performance AC to keep you cool and productive all summer long.