Too hot to handle
Temps rise and so do tempers
In case you hadn’t noticed, the UK hasn’t had the best summer. Not just politically of socially, more thinking about the weather.
However, September is finally providing some much needed sun, with temperatures estimated to creep over 30C by midweek.
Of course, working in a car in these temperatures is not the ideal, though thank goodness for the standard fit of air con these days.
It’s still important that all drivers, new and experienced, fully understand the dangers around cars in hot weather, and the best ways to keep cool. Staying cool and calm under the collar at the best of times is essential for safe driving, even more so as the mercury rises.
While stepping into a hot car during the peak of a hot day can feel like the equivalent of hell to an adult, it can be fatal over certain periods for children and pets.
To beat the heat and keep kids and pets safe in the car during this September Summer, John Clark Motor Group shares advice for drivers to prevent their car from overheating while parked, how to cool the car quickly as they set off on their journeys, some safety tips to remember to keep loved ones safe, and the fines drivers should keep in mind during the heatwave to avoid a penalty and potential danger.
Prevention is key
1. Prevent the car from getting too hot while parked – Invest in a windshield visor, stick-on sunshades for the back windows, and cooling seat mats – which can also be used for children’s car seats. These items reduce the amount of heat that passengers in the car will be exposed to.
2. Park out of direct sunlight – Seek out shade from the trees or park in a garage where possible.
3. Leave your windows slightly open – If parked in a secure area, leave your windows down by a fraction. This encourages air circulation and will prevent the interior of your car reaching blistering temperatures.
4. Plan ahead – Many new cars have a feature that allows you to open the front windows of your vehicle by pressing the unlock button on your key. By doing this shortly ahead of your journey, you can improve the air circulation within the car without having to leave your windows open for an extended period of time.
Cooling the car down
1. Open the front passenger side window only and use the driver’s door to fan the hot air out of the car five to ten times – This motion pushes the hot air out of the car and offers significant cooling before turning on the air conditioning.
2. Bring a spray bottle and damp cloth – Wipe down any surface that is too hot to the touch, whether that’s door handles, your dashboard, or even the steering wheel.
3. If you have air conditioning, use it correctly – Start the car and turn air conditioning to the coldest setting, selecting the ‘external’ air setting if you have this option, ensure all the windows are open, and direct the cool air into the footwells to force the hot air up and out the open windows. Once your car is cooled, close the windows and switch to recirculated air, adjusting the direction of the air as necessary. You can also hang the wet cloth used for cooling down your dashboard over your air vent; this cools down the air circulating through your car.
Safety advice during hot weather
1. Do not leave a child or pet alone in a parked vehicle, even with the windows open or air conditioning on – Children and pets’ core body temperatures rise much faster than adults, with core body temperatures in children of over 41 degrees Celsius classified as heat stroke, and 43 defined as the lethal threshold.
2. Ensure children cannot access your vehicle while you are unaware – Several deaths and instances of heat stroke have occurred from young children entering vehicles during the heat without their parents being aware. Store car keys out of reach, and don’t leave your car unlocked while it is on the drive or parked up.
3. Forgotten baby syndrome – If a child is quiet or sleeping in the backseat, and the parent is on autopilot and focusing on future tasks at hand, it is possible to forget the child in the back of the car. This can be particularly fatal during hot weather; the same can apply to sleeping pets. Leave a valuable item you need for your errand in the back of your car. For example, your wallet to prompt checking the back seat before leaving the car.
Heatwave penalties to avoid
1. Flip flops – Rule 97 of the Highway Code states that the footwear and clothing you choose to wear while driving must not prevent you from using the controls in the correct manner. While flip flops might be an optimal choice for a day at the beach this heatwave, be sure to wear appropriate shoes at the wheel. Although it’s not against the law, you could end up with a £100 fine, and your insurance could lead to a higher insurance premium if you were to get into an accident.
2. Not using your AC – Rule 237 of the Highway Code says you must keep your vehicle well-ventilated to avoid drowsiness. While driving when tired isn’t actually an offence, it can lead to an increased risk of an incident. Not only does this risk safety, but it could lead to points and a fine too.
3. Overfilling your car – Rule 98 of the Highway Code says you should not overload your vehicle with a weight that’s greater than the manufacturer’s recommendation. While a family day out at the beach or a September camping trip calls for plenty of supplies, if you’re not careful, you could land a penalty for using your vehicle in a dangerous condition.
4. Drinking water – Even though it’s important to stay hydrated in the heat and drinking non-alcholic beverages while driving isn’t illegal, Rule 148 of the Highway Code says that “safe driving and riding needs concentration”, and careless driving charges can lead to a £100 on the spot and three points on their licence.
You can find more useful information form the John Clark Motor Group here.