MIAMI COUNTY — As temperatures skyrocket, AAA reports an expected 7 million American drivers who will need rescuing throughout the summer, many due to heat-related incidents.
“In the extreme heat, having a disabled vehicle can be more than just an inconvenience, it can be dangerous, especially for children or seniors. It’s critical that drivers take every precaution to protect themselves — and their passengers,” said AAA spokesperson Cindy Antrican in a press release.
During the summer of 2015, AAA reported nearly 25,000 calls in the Miami Valley area alone for roadside assistance. Statistics for 2016 are not yet available.
In case of emergency, AAA recommends storing emergency supplies such as a cell phone and compatible charger, first aid kit, flashlight with batteries, a toolkit, jumper cables, emergency flares or reflectors and windshield wiper fluid in the car. The agency also suggests packing snacks for travellers and pets, extra medication and drinking water.
“If there is a crash that shuts a highway down, travellers could be stuck in their cars for hours. This could range from unpleasant to dangerous, depending on the severity of the heat. Turning the car off, using a sunshade or opening windows can prevent further danger for passengers,” Antrican said.
AAA also reports four out of every 10 drivers are unprepared for an automotive emergency.
Kathy Purk of Purk Automotive in Piqua recommends preventative measures to combat unpreparedness.
“We recommend drivers maintain their car’s antifreeze levels,” Purk said.
Jeremy Blanford of Bushong Automotive Service in Troy also suggests drivers keep their cars up to date on maintenance.
“Breakdowns never happen at the most opportune time, so the most important thing is to get your car checked out at the first sign of a problem,” Blanford said. “Keeping an eye on the temperature gauge can be your first indicator of an issue during a heatwave.”
Not only should drivers pay attention to their cars to prevent an emergency, AAA also recommends taking precautions for children and animals in hot cars.
“As outside temperatures rise, the risks of children dying from being left alone inside a hot vehicle also rises,” Antrican said. “One child dies from heatstroke nearly every 10 days from being left in a hot vehicle, but what is most tragic is that these deaths could have been prevented.”
According to AAA, a child’s body temperatures can rise up to five times faster than an adult’s, making a child’s tolerance for heat much lower. Checking the back seat for children and animals every time a driver exits the car ensures preventing possible heatstroke. AAA recommends knowing the signs of heatstroke along with how to treat it.
The warning signs of heatstroke include red, hot, and moist or dry skin, no sweating, a strong rapid pulse or a slow weak pulse, nausea, confusion or strange behavior. If a child is exhibiting any of these symptoms, AAA urges parents to call 9-1-1 immediately. Although only a trained healthcare provider can treat heatstroke, AAA recommends spraying the child with a garden hose or cool water. However, parents should never give the child an ice bath.
If you are in an automotive emergency, call AAA Roadside Assistance at (800) AAA-HELP.
Shelby Campbell is an intern for the Troy Daily News and Piqua Daily Call who will be attending Ohio University in the fall.