June 21st is the First Day of Summer, and the Heat is Already Here!
Heat and your Truck
For drivers to operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) safely, they also need to understand how heat affects the operation of the CMV. Two areas that drivers must pay attention to during their inspections are the engine coolant and the tires!
Approximately eight years ago, the OEM truck manufacturers introduced extended life coolant (ELC) into the industry! With each EPA change, the engine's operating temperature has increased by 10 to 15 degrees. It is estimated that 50% of all engine failures are associated with an overheating engine condition.
With today’s emission systems, an engine running low on coolant risks damaging the emission components such as exhaust gas recirculation or EGR.
The benefit of using ELC is that you can improve the engine's heat transfer rate by 12 to 13 percent over conventional anti-freeze.
Diesel Exhaust Fluid DEF
There is a quality level sensor in the DEF tank that can be affected by extreme heat. You should keep the DEF tank as full as possible to keep the sensor cool in extreme heat conditions.
During the pre-post trip inspection drivers should:
- Make sure that the coolant level is within range of the marking on the side of the coolant reservoir.
- If the coolant level is low, contact your Idealease service provider immediately for direction. ELC coolant should be red/orange and free of dirt, debris, rust, and other contaminants. Do NOT ELC with mixed conventional anti-freeze!
- If a dash light comes on with an overheating warning when operating a CMV, immediately pull the unit into a safe parking place and contact your Idealease service provider for directions. Operating the unit in an overheating situation can severely damage the engine.
During the summer, when the ambient temperatures can get well over 100° F, and some road temperatures can reach almost 200° F, the heat problems caused by underinflation are more extreme. Tires that run under-inflated will be more prone to failure in these temperatures. A famous tire engineer once stated, “Heat is to tires as Kryptonite is to Superman”… in other words, it’s the worst enemy. Taken all together, hot summer temperatures, under-inflated tires, heavy loads, and traveling at high speeds (not that this ever happens), and you have a recipe for tire disaster…. that’s precisely why you see more alligators on the highway in the summer season.
What can drivers do to minimize tire-related issues during the summertime months?
- Tire pressures need to be checked more frequently in the summer.
- Tire pressures must be checked when the tire is “cold” and not after operation. Pressures can increase during operation when “hot” by as much as 15% giving you a false reading.
- Inspect tires for punctures and damage during pre-post trip inspections and stops. Tire punctures tend to increase during the summer because the tread rubber becomes hotter and “softer” and ais a magnet fornails and road debris.
- Immediately report tire conditions that need attention to your Idealease service provider.
Protecting Your Employees from the Heat
What are you doing to protect your employees from Heat Stroke and exhaustion?
These conditions are created when our body cannot regulate our heat production at a safe level. First, we need to make all your employees aware of the signs and symptoms of these conditions:
- Fatigue, weakness, fainting
- Nausea and vomiting
- Muscle cramps
- Sweating (absence or presence)
The physical condition of your employees can further escalate these conditions. Employees at a greater risk for heat exhaustion and heat stroke are those with Heart disease, Skin diseases, Extensive burns, Endocrine disorders (hyperthyroidism, diabetes, etc.), High blood pressure, Overweight, Depression, Insomnia, and Fever. Over-the-counter drugs can also contribute to a greater risk for these conditions.
ALL HEAT-RELATED ILLNESSES ARE PREVENTABLE!
What can you do to prevent them?
- Use Common Sense!
- Limit your exposure to direct sunlight as much as possible.
- Drink more fluids (non-alcoholic); do not drink fluids that contain caffeine or large amounts of sugar. SSportsdrinks are good as they replace electrolytes and salt in your body. Avoid extremely cold fluids, as these can cause stomach cramps. Drink often throughout the day, 4-6 ounces at a time. WATER IS GOOD!
- Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing that does not create a safety hazard for your work environment. If outdoors, wear a hat to reduce direct exposure to the sun.
- Ensure your employees wear sunglasses that provide UV protection and are impact resistant.
- Avoid hot foods and heavy meals. They add heat to your body.
- Drivers on routes should pack a cooler with water for the day. Also, keep an umbrella in the truck operating in extreme conditions (desolate, desert, etc.). This will allow you to move to an area with breeze and remain protected from the sun.
- If exposure to the sun is inevitable, apply generous amounts of sunscreen with a high SPF rating to the exposed skin.
- Make sure your truck is in excellent condition. A good pre-trip inspection is crucial in extreme heat conditions to prevent breakdowns. Otherwise, you may find yourself and your unit on the side of the road exposed to the intense heat.
Get out the Sunglasses: July is UV Safety Awareness Month
During the summer, there is usually a lot of emphasis on protecting skin from UV rays. But you shouldn’t forget about protecting the eyes—the most exposure to bright sunlight increases the risk of developing cataracts, macular degeneration, and growths on the eye, including cancer.
July is UV safety awareness month. However, while sitting behind the wheel of a CMV, your eyes are especially at risk of UV rays all year round. This makes it essential to protect the eyes from UV rays in all situations by wearing proper eye protection, such as UV-blocking sunglasses.
Here are some tips from the American Academy of Ophthalmology:
- Don’t focus on the color or darkness of sunglass lenses: Select sunglasses that block UV rays. Don’t be deceived by color or cost. The ability to block UV light is not dependent on the price tag or how dark the sunglass lenses are.
- Check for 100 percent UV protection: Make sure your sunglasses block 100 percent UV-A and UV-B rays.
- Choose wrap-around styles: Ideally, your sunglasses should wrap all the way around your temples, so the sun’s rays can’t enter from the side.
- Wear a hat: In addition to your sunglasses, wear a broad-brimmed hat to protect your eyes.
- Don’t rely on contact lenses: Remember your sunglasses even if you wear contact lenses with UV protection.
- Don’t be fooled by clouds: The sun’s rays can pass through haze and thin clouds. Sun damage to the eyes can occur anytime during the year, not just in the summertime.
- Protect your eyes during peak sun times: Sunglasses should be worn whenever outside, and it’s essential to wear sunglasses in the early afternoon and at higher altitudes, where UV light is more intense.
- Never look directly at the sun. Looking directly at the sun at any time, including during an eclipse, can lead to solar retinopathy, damage to the eye’s retina from solar radiation.
- Don’t forget the kids: Everyone is at risk, including children.
- Protect their eyes with hats and sunglasses. In addition, try to keep children out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the sun’s UV rays are the strongest.