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Keeping your cool in the Aussie heat

Over the last few days, every local news outlet in New South Wales has been reporting on an impending heatwave, which is now starting to make its way through the state. Unfortunately, with most of the team just getting back to business for 2017, there are no trips planned in the immediate future. But it got us thinking about what should be considered when going bush in these sorts of conditions.

  1. Water, Water, Water – It’s our lifeblood as human beings and something we cannot survive without. Tip number one is obvious, make sure you’ve taken enough drinking water to provide adequate hydration for the time you plan to be away and then add a little to that tally for old murphy. A good rule of thumb is 4 litres per day per person, particularly if your travelling in hot conditions. This can be done in water jerry’s or bottled, just make sure that if you’re carrying non-drinking water it is labelled! Another great option from a survival perspective is an emergency water filtration system such as a Lifesaver Bottle; great peace of mind to tuck into the truck on every trip.
  2. Cooling Systems – Just as our bodies need hydration, your rig needs an adequate and fully functioning cooling system to run! It pays to give thought to the following:
    1. Mechanicals – Check your cooling system before you go on any trips. This includes inspecting your coolant level and quality. The days of pulling up to the tap and filling up with a hose are gone (and never should have been anyway!). With modern power plants consisting of various materials in their manufacture (think iron, plastic, aluminium, alloy etc), having the correct coolant is critical to efficiency and longevity. That’s right, they’re not all green anymore! so make sure you’re running the right formula. Once in a  while, pop your radiator cap and warm the truck up from cold. When your thermostat opens, you will notice the water flowing as you look into the top of the radiator, which is what it’s supposed to do. At the same time wait to see if your thermo fans come on when up to temperature, if you have them. Clutched fan units are slightly more “set and forget”, but remember that as the clutches wear, they lose efficiency too. Finally, check your hoses for any signs of brittleness or leaks and keep a set of spares somewhere in your rig.
    2. Air Conditioning – Whilst this is a bit of luxury for some, when you have it, you rely on it. Make sure that you’re gassed up, your condenser fan is turning on when it should and it’s blowing cold air. Obviously you want to manage your in-cabin air re-circulation based on the conditions; keeping the dust out by pressurising the cabin and blocking the interior vents.
  3. Communications – This is a tip that’s not only important when travelling in extreme heat, but anytime we hit the dirt. When going seriously remote, take maps, appropriate communications tools such as an emergency beacon or satellite phone , and make sure you let someone know where you’re going and when you expect to be back.
  4. Be informed and prepared – Not to be a wet blanket, but check the predicted conditions and  determine whether the trip is necessary or not. Consider who you intend to travel with; a trip with you and a mate or your partner will have different decision criteria than one with toddler-aged kids. Take basic safety gear including a first aid kit and a fire extinguisher. In our opinion a quality first aid kit is a must for every truck that heads bush. Finally, in supplement to the water in point 1, always take a bit more food than you need. Compact food sources like protein bars don’t take too much space and can stave off hunger a little longer should you be stranded.
  5. Know your recovery options – Should you find yourself in a situation where you breakdown and you can’t limp your rig to civilisation, be aware of your recovery options. This is particularly important if you’re travelling alone. Your Club 4X4 policy comes with $1500 worth of off-road recovery cover (unless you chose to up the cover to $15k or $30k), but remember that you need to arrange the recovery. As such it’s worthwhile researching the companies that could recover you and keep their number handy should you need them.

So there you have it, not the most comprehensive we’re sure, but these are the basics. We’d love to hear what other tips you all may have when travelling in extreme conditions

 

Happy (and safe) Touring

 

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Comments 8

  1. Bruce Brander

    Just one thing in regarding spare coolant hoses, if you are heading outback i.e. deserts and the like with these hoses don’t just carry them fit them at home that way you know that they fit which can be a nuisance it they don’t half way across the Simpson and that way you know your spares ( the old ones) fit.

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      Kalen

      That is a good call Bruce – better to get the new ones on as extra security (remember a fresh set of clamps is a good idea too – then you can carry a spare set of hoses AND clamps.

  2. John

    Hello again, all that you have mentioned is great but 1 other thing that may be of importance, destress smoke flares. Its no good standing on a dune or the highest point of an area and yelling at the top of your voice for assistance, it unlikely you will be noticed. Flares have saved many a sea farer in the very rough or lonely seas so the same thought goes into play. I have a set of smoke and parachute flares that I would use if my wife and I come unstuck. Food for thought!

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  3. wayne douglass

    Have a fire plan esp if your camped in an area with only one access rd. Decide what you will pack in emergency and have it handy.

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  4. Greg

    Don’t neglect your tyres. The surface of the road will be much hotter than the air temperature. Unless your tyres are correctly inflated for the weight your vehicle is carrying heat will rapidly build up in the tyres and eventually the rubber will become brittle. Slight over inflation may be a safer option than under inflation as it will result in less heat build up. I have seen chronically under inflated tyres, used extensively on corrugated roads in central Australia, that have eventually exfoliated, leaving the tyre susceptible to a blow out. The ride will obviously be less comfortable with higher pressures but I think this is the lesser of two evils.

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      Kalen

      really good point – also relevant when sand driving where there is more hot material around and the natural flexing of the rubber inherently causes more heat anyway…

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