Extreme Weather Warning – Take Care When Driving in the Heatwave

This summer, temperatures in the UK will get so high that the Met Office has issued Amber and Red warnings for extreme heat.

Among other things, they expect “delays on roads and road closures… with significant welfare issues for those who experience even moderate delays.”

The RAC also expects to respond to up to 15% more call-outs for breakdowns than usual.

On extremely hot days, you should avoid travelling unless it’s absolutely necessary. But if you do need to drive, here are some things you can do to keep yourself cool and safe on the road.

Driving in Hot Weather – The Essential Safety Checklist

  • Bring plenty of water. At the very least, bring a bottle of water for everyone in the car. Ideally, you should also pack a camping-style water container, so you can top everyone up if need be.
  • Prepare for a breakdown. If you do breakdown in hot weather, you might not be able to find shelter. So also pack an umbrella and a hat for everyone, so you can all stay out of the sunlight while you await rescue.
  • Perform some checks. To make a breakdown less likely, perform some additional checks before you set out, when your engine’s cold. Check the coolant and oil levels. Top up the oil if it’s too low, and top up the coolant if it’s not between the “min” and “max” levels. Also check your tyres for signs of wear and tear, as even the slightest bit of cracking could lead to a blowout in hot weather.
  • Plan your journeys. If you can, set out either early in the morning or in the evening. This way, you’ll avoid most of the traffic, as well as the hottest part of the day.
  • Cool your car correctly. Once you start your car, switch the air conditioning to its coldest setting, but also open your windows. Keep them open for a minute or two, to allow all the hot air in your car to escape. Then close your windows to allow cool air to circulate.
  • Take care with medication. If you suffer from hayfever, make sure you can still safely drive after taking your hay fever tablets.

What To Do If You Breakdown in Hot Weather

Car breakdowns are a lot more likely in extreme temperatures, as excessive heat can affect the chemicals that make your car battery work.

If your car won’t start in hot weather, read our short guide to some things you can try to get moving again.

But if you breakdown in hot weather, there are some essential things you should do to keep you and your passengers safe:

  • Head to a safe place. Leave your car as safely as you can – ideally from the passenger side. If you’re on the motorway, it’s safest to stand behind the barrier.
  • Find shelter. You need to stay out of direct sunlight, so try and find some shade. And as we said above, pack hats or umbrellas for summer journeys, so you can shade yourself even if you need to stay in direct sunlight.
  • Call for help. Call your breakdown provider, and if you’ve broken down on a motorway, look for an SOS phone on the roadside.
  • Stay hydrated. Even at the best of times, it can take recovery teams at least 45 minutes to respond to a call-out. On a hot day they’re likely to be very busy, so they’ll probably take much longer to get to you. This is why it’s important to take plenty of water on summer road trips.

Are You Insured to Drive in a Red Weather Warning?

As we mentioned above, it’s best to limit travelling during an amber or red weather warning if you can.

But if you do drive during an extreme weather warning, your insurance will still cover you.

So if travelling’s unavoidable, take extra precautions to ensure that you and your passengers can stay safe, cool and hydrated while on the road, and in case of a breakdown.

And for total peace of mind, get breakdown cover as an extra on your comprehensive insurance. That way, if you do breakdown, you can rest assured that help will be on the way as soon as possible.


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