Prepare Yourself and Your RV When Traveling in Extreme Heat

Must-haves include fully charged cellphone, extra drinking water, and umbrella.

Extra drinking water for you and your passengers, including pets. An umbrella for shade. A fully charged cellphone.

Along Bush Highway in Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Along Bush Highway in Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

It’s always important to make sure that you and your RV are prepared for the possibility of becoming stranded on the highway, but the need is even more critical in times of extreme heat. Being ready begins with—but isn’t limited to—making sure you have the items above when starting a trip, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT).

If you must spend extended time on the highway due to a breakdown or some other reason for delay, you’ll need sun protection. In addition to an umbrella, take a high-SPF sunscreen, UV-protective wide-brimmed hat (such as Tilley), and wear loose-fitting, light-colored cotton clothing.

Along Interstate 70 in Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Along Interstate 70 in Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Keep your tank at three-quarters full. Running out of gas, especially in a remote location, is dangerous in extreme heat.

Take a cooler to keep extra drinking water cold, and consider adding several frozen bottles of water to use for cooling off or to thaw and drink if needed.

If your vehicle breaks down in extreme heat, call for assistance right away to reduce wait time, and run the AC. If the AC isn’t working, open all windows.

In the Davis Mountains in West Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In the Davis Mountains in West Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Other recommendations if you are stranded along the highway in extreme heat:

  • DRINK WATER. Make sure everyone, including pets, stays hydrated.
  • If the temperature inside the vehicle becomes too hot, everyone, including pets, should exit carefully and seek out or create a shaded area as far away from the travel lanes as possible.
  • Be careful walking on the road surface, which can be hot enough to burn skin. Keep your shoes on and try to keep your pets’ paws off the pavement.
  • Turn on hazard lights.
Along Red Rock Scenic Byway near Sedona, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Along Red Rock Scenic Byway near Sedona, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

You can help avoid breakdowns and blowouts by making sure your vehicle is in good operating condition. Check your air conditioner and coolant levels, top off any vital engine fluids and make sure your battery is up to par. Check your tire pressure, as the combination of underinflated tires and hot pavement can lead to a blowout.

Hot weather can also mean more tire “gators” on the highways. Drivers should pay attention, be alert to possible tread debris.

The word likely makes you think of a state like Florida, but all highway drivers should stay alert for “gators” on the highway, especially with the summer weather upon us.

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in southern Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in southern Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Gator is the nickname given to tire treads that wind up on highways after blowouts, creating a risk for other drivers and their vehicles.

The Arizona Department of Transportation and state Department of Public Safety (DPS) are reminding motorists to stay alert to tire treads or other debris that can wind up on highways. Drivers also should regularly check their vehicles’ tire pressure to reduce the risk of blowouts.

Whether DPS troopers toss tire gators to the shoulder or ADOT maintenance crews respond after getting a call, it’s impossible to catch everything immediately along more than 6,300 miles of state highways.

Along Highway 89 south of Page in Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Along Highway 89 south of Page in Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“We all need to pay attention and be prepared for debris at any time, but tire gators increase in number when the weather turns hot,” said Raul Amavisca, ADOT Central District engineering administrator for maintenance. “Our maintenance yard bins fill up with more rubber during the summer.”

DPS is often are the first line of defense against gators, conducting traffic breaks to temporarily stop traffic so troopers can toss tire debris to the shoulder of a freeway.

“We also get to see the damage a large piece of tire tread can inflict on another vehicle,” said DPS Captain Tony Mapp. “These can be dangerous situations, which makes it so important to avoid distractions and keep an eye on the roadway out in front of you.”

Along Highway 12 Scenic Byway in Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Along Highway 12 Scenic Byway in Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Maintain proper tire pressure to limit the chances of creating a highway gator.

“You’re improving your odds, since over- or under-inflated tires are more likely to suffer blowouts,” said Captain Mapp. “It’s worth it to take the time to check your tire pressure.”

Worth Pondering…

Speed was high

Weather was hot

Tires were thin

X marks the spot

BURMA SHAVE

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