The days are getting longer, temperatures are rising-summer is finally here. While some people are digging through drawers in search of swim trunks, others are heading for the garage to pull the tarp off their two-wheeled pride and joy. It’s the most popular season for motorcycling, but before you put wheel to pavement, a review of how to beat the heat while out on the street is a good idea for beginners and pros alike.
Memorial Day tragedy
Two Minnesota motorcyclists died last month on Memorial Day when an SUV attempted to turn in front of them on Highway 10 in Western Wisconsin. Neither alcohol nor distracted driving played a role in the collision-the driver of the SUV claimed she simply didn’t see them.
Coincidentally, the collision came at the end of May’s National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, further underscoring the importance of taking the necessary precautions before and during your rides so that you can be at your maximum alertness, able to react quickly in dangerous situations.
Extreme heat motorcycle health risks
On a scorching summer day, your motorcycle isn’t the only thing you should be worrying about overheating. Riding in hotter temperatures means greater health risks for riders-with the elderly, children, and individuals with chronic diseases being the most susceptible. Before heading out, riders should know their own limits as well as anyone they’re riding with and only take on what they know they can handle. Risks include:
Summer motorcycle safety tips
The following summer motorcycle safety tips from roadRUNNER magazine will keep you functioning at your optimum all summer long
Cover-up: It may seem like riding in shorts and a tank top would be a sensible way of staying cool in hot weather, but it isn’t. Besides the considerably elevated risk of severe injury in the event of an accident, the hot wind wicks moisture from the under clad rider’s body at an accelerated pace with little-if any-evaporative cooling benefit. As mentioned earlier, uncovered riders also are highly susceptible to severe sunburn.
To avoid sunburn, mitigate severe injury in a crash, or becoming quickly dehydrated, wear mesh motorcycle riding gear (with armor), synthetic undergarments that promote evaporative cooling, a full-face helmet, sunglasses or a tinted face shield, gloves, and boots. In summary, leave no skin uncovered.
Stay Hydrated: It’s obviously a good practice to drink water and other clear fluids when you get thirsty, but in hot weather that usually does not rehydrate our bodies sufficiently for two reasons: (1) humans, unlike most other members of the animal kingdom, do not always get thirsty when they need rehydration and (2) even when we think we’ve consumed enough water, we usually haven’t. While riding in a hot dry climate, your body will need to consume at least a gallon of water each day to replace lost fluids. If you’re riding off-road and exerting a great deal in the process, then a much higher consumption of water will be needed.
Many of us stop only periodically to drink water in large quantities, but much of this rapidly consumed water winds up in our small intestines and isn’t absorbed into body tissues. A more effective technique is to carry a water bladder on your back and sip small amounts from it frequently while riding. This is one time when it’s OK, actually much more than OK, to drink and ride.
Avoid Diuretics: Caffeinated drinks can produce an unquenchable thirst and act as a diuretic, increasing urine production and the loss of bodily fluids. So avoid any drink, or any other substance, that produces a diuretic effect on your body.
Replace Electrolytes: As riders sweat and produce evaporative cooling, they’re losing both water and other chemicals, which are critical to keeping muscles and the nervous system operating normally. Consequently, it’s important to replace your body’s electrolytes (potassium, chloride and sodium) with fruit, juices or sports type drinks to maintain effective brain and neuromuscular functions. But avoid those drinks, which also contain high levels of caffeine.
Start Early, Stop Early: Begin riding very early in the morning, before the intense heat builds up, and then call it quits by early to mid afternoon. By beginning your ride at sunup, it’s amazing how much better you feel and the distance that can be covered by noon. The absorption and radiation of heat from pavement reaches its peak in the late afternoon, which adds to discomfort in late afternoon riding. Stopping early also is a good strategy for avoiding severe weather, which often arrives later in the day, when temperatures are at their peak.
Cool Down: If you’re body is suffering from being too hot, then its simple logic that cooling it down will help mitigate any heat related symptoms. Making frequent stops for cool drinks in an air-conditioned environment is an effective strategy for keeping body temperature under control. Wearing evaporative cooling type garments (like a vest or a neck wrap) can help keep riders stay cool while still on the move. One of the best strategies for achieving a rapid cool down is immersion in water in the form of a cool stream, a shower, a bath or just being dowsed with a bucket of cold water.
Get Medical Help: Once a rider has progressed to, or near, heatstroke, getting medical assistance becomes critical. If in doubt about the seriousness of a rider’s heat related illness, call 911, because it’s always better to be safe now, than sorry later
If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle accident, it is very important to see a doctor immediately to document your injuries in a medical record. Then, contact Meshbesher & Spence for a consultation with our personal injury attorneys-our attorneys are available to visit you in the hospital or in your home as well as in our offices. Our compassionate lawyers will help you determine if you will be able to recover damages for your injuries.