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Keep Cool in the Heat – Heather Klinefelter, Outreach Specialist

Summertime is in full swing and with that comes the oppressive heat and the possibility of heat related illness.  Commuter Services is committed to keeping our commuters cool this summer.  Read on to find out how to stay safe during extreme heat.

First things first, here’s your friendly reminder not to leave children, pets, the disabled, or the elderly in the car on hot days.  You can use this calculator to see how quickly a car can heat up on a hot day.  On a 90 degree day, after 30 minutes your car can shoot up to 124 degrees!  If you have car seats, many experts recommend getting into the habit of placing your purse or phone in the car seat when your child is not with you, so you always check before getting out of the car.

Now that we have that out of the way, The National Weather Service advises, “Heat is one of the leading weather-related killers in the United States, resulting in hundreds of fatalities each year. Heat can be very taxing on the body; check out the heat related illnesses that can occur with even a short period of exposure. Everyone can be vulnerable to heat.”  Whether you are driving, walking, or biking, you need to be mindful of the temperature when you get ready to travel.

Heat can affect how quickly coolant and other fluids are used by your car, especially running the air conditioning.  Make sure to monitor the levels and alerts from your car.  Frequently check your tire pressure.  Security Driver reminds us “Tire pressure will increase as the outside air temperature rises, tire pressure will go up approximately one pound for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit” and “Excessive heat will over-inflate the tires. Over-inflated tires can lose traction because the shape of the tire becomes deformed by extreme air pressure, decreasing the tire’s footprint on the road, limiting traction and stability.”  I Drive Safely recommends taking highways on extremely hot days because the roads are more consistently paved and less affected by temperatures.

Walking and biking present their own set of obstacles in the heat and humidity.  The number one rule is to remember your water!  Cycling Magazine says:

Just because your commute isn’t so long doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ride with some cold water. A mid-commute refreshment can go a long way if you begin overheating or simply get thirsty. Staying well hydrated will also help your body better regulate your body temperature and having a drink during your commute can help keep you hydrated throughout a hot day.

This applies to pedestrian commuting too.  Other tips include wearing a hat, remembering your sunscreen, wearing light clothing, and choosing shaded paths.  ABC News says, “Direct sun can make the temperature feel up to 15 degrees hotter! Check your area to see if there are parks with trails through the trees.”  In urban areas, switch which side of the street you are traveling on based on the shade.   Try not commuting during the hottest times of the day and opt for early in the morning or later in the afternoon.

For more summer safety travel tips you can check out our blogs on road trips and schools out for summer.  Stay safe, stay cool, and have fun!  Don’t forget to record your trip in Commute PA if there are 2 or more adults riding with you on your car trip or if you are walking or biking to a destination.