Summer is in full force, and a major heatwave has already struck the northwestern part of the country. With historic highs in temperature, the heatwave is not only dangerous, but potentially deadly.
Truck drivers don’t have the luxury of sitting inside an air-conditioned office, so they are more likely to be exposed to the elements than many other workers. Here are 6 tips to survive and stay comfortable during the hot weather.
1. Protect Yourself from Sun
Drivers who spend more time outside, like flatbed drivers that have to tarp their own load, are not the only ones who should be concerned about exposure to the sun. All truck drivers should be.
The sunshine will go right through your window and burn your arms and the side of your face. Sunburns are painful, and prolonged exposure can even lead to skin cancer.
Drivers should apply sunscreen every few hours, even if they only expect to stay in their trucks. If you expect harsh exposure through the window, you may want to wear a long-sleeved shirt. To stay cool, go with an athletic shirt that has moisture wicking.
2. Drink Water
During a heatwave, drivers will likely perspire more and will require more water to replenish themselves. Many drivers forget to drink water during long stretches, and more water intake means more bathroom breaks.
Dehydration is not work the risk, though.
3. Maintenance Checks
A heatwave can be especially hard, not only on your body, but on the truck. And you certainly don’t want to get stuck outside if your truck breaks down.
Make sure to have maintenance checks for your engine. Check the engine oil and coolant to make sure everything will run properly once you hit the road.
4. Check the A/C.
Air conditioning is essential to stay cool during a heatwave. Make sure to get the A/C checked and ensure every part is working, including the antifreeze levels.
During sleep, keep the truck idle and run the air conditioning to stay comfortable in the cab. Some trucks will have an Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) that will require the engine to be turned off in order to run the APU and power the air conditioning.
If a trucking company expects you to not leave the A/C on while idle and won’t provide an APU for A/C, then refuse to drive until they provide you with the proper equipment. Proper air conditioning is the least they should do.
Also while sleeping, use reflective sunshades for the windshield and every other window. Do not just use curtains, which can hold in the heat.
5. Don’t Overwork Yourself.
Truck drivers know that time is money. Most drivers get paid by the mile, which means they only get paid when they drive.
If you experience rapid breathing, dizziness, or heavy sweating, it could be the beginning signs of heat exhaustion. Continuing to drive could make these symptoms worse, and you could even pass out behind the wheel.
Pull over. Drink lots of water. Cool off. Don’t keep driving in a dangerous situation. Your life is worth more than your freight.