"Unattended small children and pets are especially defenseless against the heat that can build up in a vehicle whose windows are rolled up," said AAA Idaho spokesman Dave Carlson. "Temperatures can turn deadly dangerous in just a matter minutes, putting all occupants at risk of heat stroke." (See related story.)
About half of AAA's 120,000 calls for roadside assistance in Idaho and Oregon this summer will result in a tow. Overheating vehicles are common during hot summer days, often resulting from driving in slow-moving traffic during hot weather with the air conditioning running, and driving up long, steep hills.
Broken or loose fan belts, a broken water pump or hose, a stuck thermostat, insufficient antifreeze in the cooling system and clogged radiators occur frequently when outside temperatures rise above 90 degrees.
"Our concern is for the motorist first, then his vehicle, but obviously one affects the other in a dangerous situation where heat stroke can overcome motorists and their passengers," Carlson said.
Heat stroke is an immediate danger marked by weakness, dizziness and profuse sweating. Reacting quickly to get back on road requires quick thinking. The motoring organization advises drivers to open the doors and windows if the vehicle breaks down and to use a sunshield, if available, to minimize heat buildup
AAA Idaho also offers the following tips if your car is running but is overheating:
Carlson said avoiding roadside emergencies in the first place is preferred. During the hot, dog days of summer, problems involving engine coolant, the car's air conditioning system, the battery, and engine oil plague motorists. Each could be minimized or avoided by having a qualified technician service the vehicle before traveling.
AAA Idaho offers a complimentary brochure "What to Do When the Heat is On," available at any AAA Idaho Service Center. Or call the Boise office at (208) 342-9391 to request a copy.