How to keep your cool on the road


Life certainly isn’t a beach when you’re a pedestrian, a driver, or a commuter in the city, baking under the intense summer sun.

Cardiologist and Inquirer resident health columnist Dr. Raffy Castillo wrote in October 2015, “Aside from the stress caused by heavy traffic, there are other health risks our worsening traffic problem poses. That’s why the poor policemen at the street intersection conducting the traffic and the throng of commuters queuing up for their ride are sources of serious worry for health advocates. (The) traffic these days can really pose a serious threat to people at risk for heart attack or stroke.”

He then urged authorities to place heart defibrillators in strategic locations in traffic prone areas like Edsa.

It’s a life-saving move, then, for the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) to impose mandatory 30-minute rest periods for their on-street personnel.

These are the periods between 1:30 pm and 2 pm, and from 2:30 pm to 3 pm, the hottest times of the day.

Another Inquirer columnist, Juan L. Mercado, wrote in his April 2013 Viewpoint column, quoting former MMDA chair Francis Tolentino who said that the US Marine Corps and Dubai traffic officers also go on these “heat stroke breaks”.

Here are other simple ways to cope with the summer sun, as suggested by doctors.

1. Wear comfortable, light clothes. Avoid wearing dark-colored clothing, as it absorbs heat. And as much as possible, park your vehicle under the shade, advised Dr. Michael L. Tee MD, FPCP, Internal Medicine at the Philippine General Hospital.

He added that light-colored clothes made with breathable fabric would be best.

2. Stay hydrated. Always carry drinking water with you. Summer makes your body lose more fluids, even if you’re not engaged in strenuous activities.

“Drink water as dictated by thirst,” said Tee. “From a medical point of view, we cannot just tell people to drink more, as those with heart conditions may also experience breathing difficulties (from drinking too much water).”

3. Make sure your immediate surroundings don’t stress you out even more.

“In a traffic jam, find ways to amuse yourself, like listening to music. Be conscious of your environment. Always lock the doors,” recommended Dr. Ted “Everest” Esguerra, who specializes in survival medicine.

Esguerra, who drives a 1999 4×4 Pajero Field Master, added that he always makes sure that his aircon is well-maintained, and that his car, even if it’s already 19 years old, is regularly checked so that it operates at its best all the time.

4. If it’s hot outside, it’s even hotter inside the engine bay.

The inside of the engine bay can be so hot (especially with turbocharged engines) that it can penetrate the passenger and driver cabins and add to the already sweaty atmosphere for the driver and passengers.

Hoses and plastic parts are vulnerable to absorbing heat and undergoing heat cycles, making them more brittle and vulnerable to breakage.

Experts suggest that the car hood be opened for a few minutes after a lengthy drive to allow the parts in the engine bay to cool down quickly.

Pay special attention to the radiator and its hoses. An improperly working radiator, or a cracked or leaking hose can cause the car to overheat.

Check your auxiliary fans, as well, together with radiator caps and engine thermostats.

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