Sunday, June 19, 2016

Be prepared for driving emergencies in the desert

Sonoran Desert
As my husband is fond of saying, southern Arizona has only five temperatures: hot, hotter, hottest, hot as hell and hotter than hell.

If you’re going to be spending any time here, even it’s just mostly driving through, you need to be prepared, especially in the summer. You never know when emergencies will crop up, which is something we learned the hard way.

We were traveling across the Sonoran Desert on Interstate 8 from Yuma to Tucson in late July one time. It was 125 degrees in the shade, only there was no shade on the freeway. Our pick-up broke down, shutting all electrical systems down, leaving us with no air conditioning or the ability to put the power windows down for any breeze that might come along. Since we were barely on the freeway shoulder, we could only open doors on the passenger side.

Luckily our cell phones were charged and we could get service.  When we called for roadside assistance, we were told it would be about two hours before help arrived almost 40 miles from the nearest town. It was so hot, we were both sweating so profusely, you could wring liquid out of our clothes. We had a cooler full of bottled water, so we could replace what we lost, but we couldn’t get our little dog to drink any. He gasped furiously for air, then collapsed, so still we thought we’d lost him.

More than an hour into our wait, a state patrolman stopped and insisted on taking us to a gas station four miles away where we could wait in shade for the tow truck. I shudder to think what would have happened to us if the patrolman hadn’t come along.

So what did we learn from this?

  • Make sure your car is in good working condition if you’re traveling through the desert in the heat of the day.  You can’t anticipate breakdowns, but if you know there’s something wrong with your vehicle, even if it seems minor, get it fixed before you start cross the desert. The repair shop said the part that broke, disabling our truck, rarely did so, but the breakdown turned a 3 -1/2 trip into one that lasted almost eight hours.
  • Make sure your cell phone is charged. My husband and I purposely use different cell service providers, just in case one of us can’t get service, the other one probably can.
  • Make sure you have a good roadside assistance plan and call for help immediately.
  • Make sure you have lots of bottled water, preferably in a cooler, with you. And drink lots of it. Becoming dehydrated will only add to your problems. Even if we’re just going to Tucson, 45 miles from where we live now, we’ll take a cooler containing 6-8 bottles of water with us.





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