Prepare yourself, your vehicle before highway trips in extreme heat with must-have emergency items

July 10, 2019 - 11:50 am

With merciless temperatures forecast over the coming days, be sure you and your vehicle are prepared before traveling on highways in the Arizona desert.

Motorists should always be ready for the possibility of becoming stranded, but that need is even more critical in extreme heat.

The Arizona Department of Transportation’s safety tips, available at azdot.gov/ExtremeHeat, including the following:

For you and your passengers: Have extra drinking water for everyone in the vehicle, including pets, an umbrella for shade and a fully charged cellphone. Pro tip: Take a cooler to keep extra drinking water cold, and consider adding several frozen bottles of water to use for cooling off or to thaw and drink if needed.

If you must spend extended time along a highway due to a breakdown or some other delay, you’ll need sun protection. In addition to an umbrella, take sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat and wear loose-fitting, light-colored cotton clothing.

For your vehicle: Check the air conditioner and coolant levels, top off any vital engine fluids and make sure your battery is up to par. Check your tire pressure, as the combination of underinflated or overinflated tires and hot pavement can lead to a blowout.

Keep your tank at least three-quarters full. Running out of gas, especially in a remote location, is dangerous in extreme heat.

If your vehicle breaks down, call for assistance right away to reduce your wait, and run the air conditioning. If your vehicle's air conditioner isn’t working, roll down all windows.

Here are other recommendations if you are stranded along the highway in extreme heat:

  • Avoid parking in tall brush. A vehicle’s undercarriage is very hot and can ignite grass and other vegetation.
  • DRINK WATER. Make sure everyone, including pets, stays hydrated.
  • If the temperature inside your vehicle becomes too hot, everyone, including pets, should exit carefully and seek out or create a shaded area as far away from the travel lanes as possible.
  • Be careful walking on the road surface, which can be hot enough to burn skin. Keep your shoes on and try to keep your pets’ paws off the pavement.
  • Raise the hood and turn on hazard lights.

Real-time highway conditions are available on ADOT’s Arizona Traveler Information site at az511.gov, by calling 511 and through ADOT’s Twitter feed, @ArizonaDOT. When a freeway closure or other major traffic event occurs, our free app available atADOTAlerts.com will send critical information directly to app users in affected areas – where possible, in advance of alternate routes.

The image shows an image from an Arizona Department of Transportation scanner on Interstate 10. Vehicles drive across a stretch of road through the desert.

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