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Surviving the Heat Wave: Tips to Help Semi-Truck Drivers & K9 Co-Pilots Beat the Heat

Raise your hand if you feel personally victimized by this heat wave. Trust us, our hands are going up too. There’s no denying that it’s HOT outside, and meteorologists don’t expect us to have any relief anytime soon. The summer of 2023 has already broken all kinds of heat-related records. Some parts of the United States have had temperatures over 100° for multiple days, weeks even, in a row. These dangerous temperatures can be hazardous for folks who spend their lives on the road. Truck drivers, especially, need to take precautions to survive the heat. Plus, drivers who travel with a K9 companion must take extra steps to ensure their furry coworker is comfortable and safe. Now that we’ve piqued your interest by talking about dogs, we invite you to keep reading to learn some valuable tips to beat the heat.

Keep It Cool, Drivers

“I’m in a relationship with my air conditioner.” – Unknown

Drivers, we know this quote is relatable. We’re pretty sure man’s best friends are dogs and air conditioning. It’s essential that you keep your truck’s AC operating properly this summer. The last thing we want is for you to get in your cab and have to sit in the sweltering heat. To prevent this horrific event from occurring, make sure your truck is serviced regularly. Of course, the AC is your first line of defense to beat the heat, but there are other steps you can take. Here’s what you need to know: 

  1. Drink lots and lots and lots and lots of water. Might as well add another “lots” in there. Staying hydrated is so important. The key is to hydrate before you become thirsty. If you don’t love plain water, that’s OK. You can switch things up with sports drinks packed with electrolytes. Just keep your caffeinated drinks to a minimum because they could do more harm than good in the long run. 
  2. Wear sunscreen! Skin cancer can affect anyone anywhere. The Skin Cancer Foundation said that melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers commonly occur on the left side of the body for US drivers because the sun penetrates through the side windows. Your truck’s windshield is crafted to protect you from the sun’s harmful UVA and UVB rays, but your side windows are not. The non-profit also said that up to 50% of UVA rays, which are to blame for premature aging, can reach any exposed skin through the side windows of a vehicle. What can you do to combat this issue? Several things. Start by wearing sunscreen and reapplying as directed on the bottle. Also, wear sunglasses that block 100% of UV rays and a hat for extra protection. It might not be a bad idea to look into installing window film or having your side windows tinted. Both options can block over 90% of the sun’s rays. Check state laws before tinting to ensure you won’t end up with a ticket down the road. 
  3. Pack a hot-weather emergency kit. This can include cooling towels, water bottles, sports drinks, a battery-powered fan, snacks, etc. 
  4. It’s also important to know the signs of heat-related illness. Avoiding heat exhaustion or heatstroke is a dangerous game to play. Things will only get worse the longer you wait to address the issue. The CDC created a useful chart explaining the differences between various types of heat-related illnesses and what you need to do if you or someone else is experiencing symptoms. You can check it out here

Pawsitively Good Tips for Pups

Our team at LYNC really, really loves dogs. We even have two on our staff, so we take K9 safety very seriously. Just like humans, dogs can overheat and become dehydrated during the summer months. We don’t want your furry co-pilot to end up injured or sick, so here are some “pawsitively” good tips to keep them safe:

  1. Do NOT leave your dog unattended in a hot truck or vehicle of any kind. The temperature inside the cab of a truck will rise rapidly, and it will be hotter inside the truck than outside. Over one hour, the temperature inside a vehicle can rise around 40 degrees! Some states even have laws against leaving animals in hot vehicles.
  2. Keep your pup hydrated. There are lots of travel water bowl options on the market. Some are even designed to keep water from spilling out. 
  3. Avoid long-term exposure to hot asphalt. When you stop for a walk or potty break for your pup, try to keep them from walking on asphalt because it can burn their paws. When walking, stay in the shade and carry a spray bottle of water with you to cool off your dog.
  4. Keep your windows closed. Rolling them down for your dog to feel the wind in their fur may sound like a good idea in theory, but it’s very dangerous because your dog could jump out or be ejected in the event of a crash.
  5. Always travel with your dog’s shot records and make sure they are microchipped in case they get lost or you need to stop at a vet on the road.
  6. Know the signs of dog dehydration and heatstroke. The American Kennel Club says signs of dehydration include panting, dry gums and nose, thick saliva, lethargy, sunken eyes, and loss of elasticity in the skin. If your dog appears to be dehydrated, rehydrate them with electrolyte-enhanced water. Talk to your dog’s vet for specific recommendations. Heatstroke can be fatal for pups. The symptoms vary a bit from those of dehydration. During the early stages of heatstroke, you may notice heavy panting, rapid breathing, excessive drool, bright red gums and tongue, and difficulty maintaining balance. Advanced-stage symptoms include white or blue gums, lethargy or unwillingness to move, uncontrollable urination or defecation, labored or noisy breathing, and shock. Get your dog to a vet as soon as possible if they exhibit any signs of heatstroke.

One Last Word

We want both you and your dog to return home safe and sound. This heat is no joke. Thankfully, cooler weather should be here in a few weeks with the arrival of fall. Until then, we encourage everyone to take additional precautions to stay cool.