Safe Summer Traveling
The air is warm, the lakes are sparkling and the cicadas are buzzing-the road always calls in the long days of summer. With the hottest months upon us, road travel has never been more popular. Whether you're just taking the cover off the RV for the first time this year or you travel year-round, there are some things to consider when traveling during the hot summer months.
Before starting off on a long haul, check all hoses and belts for worn patches, cracking and blistering. Heat will only exacerbate these problems and eventually cause your engine to overheat. Make sure your tires are properly inflated and well balanced. Hot asphalt and long distance driving can wear your tires faster than normal, so don't leave home with tires that are already worn. Checking the weight of the vehicle is also imperative-too much weight on tires in conjunction with higher temperatures puts you at higher risk for tire fires. Have your mechanic check your thermostat-if you've had the same one for more than three years, it's a good idea to replace it. A thermostat malfunction can result in engine overheating. They're inexpensive to replace and can save you a costly melt-down.
A summer trip is a good excuse to double-check your emergency supplies. Your travels may take you through less inhabited areas where service stations are few and far between. It's always good to have a quality spare tire in case you do need to drive a distance before you find a tire shop. You should always have water and coolant on hand to keep the engine fresh and an extra quart or two of oil. Hot weather can also shorten the life of your battery, so remember to pack your jumper cables.
Driving with the air conditioning on seems essential when traveling through the desert in the middle of August. However, it does put extra strain on your engine. While you're feeling cool and refreshed in the driver's seat, your engine may be getting baked and overworked in the heat. Keep an eye on your temperature gauge and lay off the throttle. If you do see the temperature rising, the best thing to do is pull over and rest the vehicle for a while. A temporary fix is to turn the heat on for a few minutes, which will help draw the heat away from the engine. It may not be the most comfortable option for you, but it could save your engine if you're in a bind. You should also turn off the air conditioning when climbing a mountain grade. It steals horsepower from the engine when it's needed most and makes it work harder than it needs to, which could also lead to the engine's overheating.
When You Get There
Summertime can make us yearn to visit our national parks, many of which are full of dry timber and forest fire danger. When traveling in areas that have fire-danger postings, be especially aware of activities that could start a fire. Be sure to park your vehicle a good distance from low branches and dry grassy areas. If you use a barbeque or cook stove, watch for flying sparks and immediately stomp out any that land on the ground. Also ensure that any outdoor fires you start are thoroughly drowned with plenty of water before you leave them behind.
When you're out enjoying the sun, hiking or sightseeing, remember to take care of yourself and pack plenty of water. Heat, high humidity and exposure to the sun make it difficult for the body to regulate its temperature. Dehydration reduces the benefits of heat acclimatization and physical fitness, increases the risk of heat illness, and reduces work capacity, appetite and alertness. If you're out in the sun, drink more than you normally would to replace fluids you're losing through perspiration.
If you leave pets in the RV while you're out, remember their safety can be in jeopardy when the temperature outside rises. In hot weather, if you have to leave a pet unattended in your vehicle, leave air conditioning running. If that's not possible, do not leave your pet behind. Even moderate temperatures outside can result in stifling heat inside, especially if the coach is parked in full sun-this can quickly cause an animal to overheat and even die. You can purchase a Pet Safety Heat Alarm, which gauges the temperature inside your vehicle and will ring your cell phone if the heat gets to a level that may be a danger to your pet. This is an option to keep track of what's going on in the RV in your absence. Just remember that you're trusting the life of your pet to an electronic device that could malfunction.
Travel beckons to many people in the summertime. Keep in mind when you're driving during the lazy days of summer that your safety needs to come first. Stay on top of your maintenance, both for your RV and yourself, and you'll enjoy safe summer travelin'.
Disclaimer: The information in this article was obtained from various sources. This content is offered for educational purposes only and does not represent contractual agreements, nor is it intended to replace manuals or instructions provided by the manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional. The definitions, terms and coverage in a given policy may be different than those suggested here and such policy will be governed by the language contained therein. No warranty or appropriateness for a specific purpose is expressed or implied.