WASHINGTON, D. C. (Sunday, July 1, 2018) ––Hot enough for you? Whether it is two separate words or just one word, being stranded on the side of the road during a “heatwave,” or a “heat wave,” can be more than just an inconvenience or a hassle, warns AAA Mid-Atlantic. It can be dangerous and life-threatening, especially for children, seniors, or individuals with respiratory and/or heart ailments. Much of the continental United States is under a “heat dome.” All told, 120 million people are at risk of exposure to the injurious elements. It is hot and sunny outside, and Washingtonians are reeling from all that heat and humidity and experiencing, but barely coping with oppressive heat index values as high as 104 degrees Fahrenheit.
Scorching summer temperatures, surging heat and humidity, and muggy days and nights in a row will easily put serious stress on the human body and on car engines. With the heat index soaring to triple digits over the Pre-Fourth of July weekend, Washington area residents should be mindful of the dangers of heatstroke and the inherent risks of leaving children in hot cars. As outside temperatures rise, the risks of children dying from being left alone inside a hot vehicle also rises.
During this dangerous heat wave, and the unusually hot and humid conditions, AAA is urging drivers, parents and caregivers to “look before you lock.”
Meteorologically, a heat wave is described “as three or more days in a row with high temperatures at or above 90° Fahrenheit.” However, a “heat dome,” a weather phenomenon that traps hot air underneath its high pressure system, is a thing unto itself. It acts like “an atmospheric lid, preventing hot air from escaping.” In addition to exacting a toll on the human body, the sweltering heat wave will trigger rampant vehicle breakdowns and automotive failures. It is unfolding as 39.7 million Americans, as well as 1,009,700 people living in and around Washington, are gearing up to hit the road for the Fourth of July.
As a result of the “heat dome” enveloping the mid-Atlantic and Eastern Seaboard, the Emergency Roadside Assistance switchboard at AAA Mid-Atlantic is expecting a sharp rise in SOS call volume, beginning this weekend and throughout next week. As temperatures near 100 degrees, car batteries will be tested by the extreme heat. As well, there will likely be an increase in tire troubles in the intense weather.
Under the Fourth of July “Heat Dome,” and during the extended Fourth of July holiday travel period, AAA Mid-Atlantic expects to rescue more than 33,000 motorists across the region who are stranded on the roadside or in other godforsaken places, with the primary reasons being towing, dead batteries, lockouts and flat tires. AAA came to the rescue of 1,160 motorists in Washington, D.C., 8,910 in Maryland and 6,320 in Virginia during the 2017 holiday travel period, with roadside rescues peaking the day following the Fourth.
“Becoming stranded on the roadway during extreme weather conditions is the last thing anyone wants. The health risks from being stranded alongside the road during a wretched heatwave can affect fit and healthy people, and not just those in high-risk groups,” said Bruce Jenkins, Manager, AAA Mid-Atlantic Roadside Assistance. “Never leave children and adults over 65 alone in enclosed vehicles. They are vulnerable to heat-related illnesses. Heatwaves can break down car batteries internally and can accelerate the rate of corrosion on battery terminals, leading to insufficient electrical power and the risk of being stranded without warning.”
“The high humidity will make temperatures feel even hotter, and warm overnight temperatures will provide little relief,” explains the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). As the region swelters and reels from a scorching heat wave, expert automotive technicians at AAA Mid-Atlantic Car Care Centers across the metro region are cautioning area motorists to keep their eyes on both the warning light and the temperature gauge. In some cases, ignoring a warning light or the temperature gauge can quickly result in lamentable damage to your car’s engine. “Great Googa Mooga!”
“Overheating will be problematic for human beings and for automotive vehicles too during this dangerous heat wave,” said James Moore, Manager, AAA Mid-Atlantic Car Care Center. “Whether you are staying put locally for the holiday or planning a long distance road trip during the Fourth of July, having your vehicle properly maintained and prepared for holiday driving will help ensure it gets you and your loved ones to your destination safely and without incident. Oil changes, fluid level checks, battery tests and tire inspections go a long way toward reducing and preventing the chances of a breakdown.”
Every car requires routine maintenance and repair. The best time to find a mechanic or auto repair shop is before you need one. Keep some cash on hand, in case you run into a situation where credit cards are not accepted. Depending on local climate and vehicle usage patterns, most car batteries have a three to five year service-life. This heat can wear down a battery’s longevity. While motorists cannot do much about the heat, they can make sure their battery is securely mounted in place to minimize vibration. Another potential summer problem is faster evaporation of the battery fluid, leading to corrosion on terminals and connections.
Here is another thing. Driving on under-inflated tires during a heatwave not only affects the handling and braking of a vehicle, it also can cause tires to overheat and increase the likelihood of a blowout. The same fate can befall motorists with worn and wizened tires. Even with proper preventive maintenance, summer breakdowns and blow-outs can still occur.
In light of that, AAA is urging motorists to have a fully charged cellphone and a roadside rescue plan, and is offering four tips to avoid heat-related car troubles.
- Get your battery tested and, if necessary, replace it BEFORE it dies.
- Make sure tires are properly inflated.
- Check all fluids.
- Stock a summer emergency kit – including non-perishable snack food and plenty of water.
Nationwide, AAA expects to ride to the rescue of more than 362,000 motorists at the roadside around the Independence Day holiday. Dead batteries, lockouts and flat tires will be the leading reasons AAA members will experience car trouble.
AAA recommends motorists take their vehicle to a trusted repair facility, including AAA Mid-Atlantic Car Care Centers, to perform any needed maintenance before heading out. AAA’s newest Car Care Center celebrated its grand opening last week in Laurel, Maryland.
Even so, four out of 10 American drivers are unprepared for emergency breakdown situations, according to a previous survey by AAA. Before hitting the road, make sure your vehicle is road-trip ready. You bet! So make a good B-E-T to stay on the road this summer by having your Battery tested, looking for Engine coolant leaks and checking Tire condition.
“Feeling, Hot, Hot, Hot.” Knowing how to keep cool during long periods of hot weather can help save lives, especially among the elderly, the very young and people with chronic medical conditions. Avoid the heat. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids even if you do not feel thirsty.
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AAA provides automotive, travel and insurance services to 57 million members nationwide and nearly 78,000 members in the District of Columbia. AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years. The not-for-profit, fully tax-paying member organization works on behalf of motorists, who can now map a route, find local gas prices, discover discounts, book a hotel and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. For more information, visit http://aaa.com