Signs of Heat Stroke and How to Avoid it While Riding a Motorcycle in 90+ heat

With temperatures in the 90’s so often lately here are some warning signs about Heat Stroke and other good tips on staying cool while riding during the hot summer months!

Riding in temperatures reaching triple digits can be as dangerous as riding in freezing temperatures. The beginnings of a heat stroke, as with hypothermia, can affect your judgment and impair your ability to operate a motorcycle safely.

The Warning Signs:

Symptoms include pale clammy skin, headaches, dizzy, nausea, loss of memory and fainting, muscle tremors, cramping and being tired and weak. Red skin with little or no sweating indicates a dangerous level of heat exhaustion. At this point immediate action must be taken to prevent a heat stroke.

The treatments are mostly common sense, but remember the victim may not be mentally capable of making the right decision. Move them into the shade or preferably air conditioned space. Spray water on the person, and get some air circulating around the victim with a fan and have them drink non-caffeinated fluids, cool but not ice cold.

Rinsing with cool water is fine, but do not apply ice to the victim as it will fool the body into closing skin pores to retain heat, making the situation worse.

Be aware that individuals with high blood pressure, those who are overweight are at a higher risk to suffer heat exhaustion and/or a heat stroke. High temperatures with high humidity combined with these risk factors and alcohol use or certain medications and the ingredients are all present for a tragic end to the ride.

Stay Cool on the Bike:

It’s not always possible to avoid riding when the temperatures reach triple digits, and even with temperatures hovering between 90-98 Fahrenheit the combination of high humidity exposes the rider to dangerous heat stress.

The best course of action may be to wear long sleeves and or a good mesh leather riding suit, especially on rides where the temperatures reach north of 98 degrees.

Our body is wonderfully adapted when it comes to keeping us cool. We can cool off a lot easier than we can warm up.

Motorcyclists however, are at a disadvantage when it comes to cooling because in extreme heat, the wind is not our friend. Temperatures over 100 degrees turn the environment around our motorcycle into a convection oven. Strong winds, even as low as 35 mph, snatches away our perspiration before it has had time to cool our skin, leaving us dehydrated and hot.

Add to that the radiant effect of sunlight on uncovered skin (such as wearing thin t-shirt, tank top or no shirt) and serious sun burn isn’t far behind. Wear long sleeve technical style shirts that runners wear made with a cotton/synthetic blend that keeps sunlight off your skin, but the fabric is breathable so you can feel the sweat cooling your skin as it evaporates.

You could also add a full face hybrid flip style helmet and evaporative vest on long hot rides to help keep you cool.

The vest helps lower your core temperature. But to maximize its benefit it must be worn next to the skin preferably under a lightweight vented or perforated jacket. An extra idea too maximize the vest benefits even more is to soak the vest in water before riding.

You can probably expect stares of disbelief as you cover up with a jacket in 100+ heat but you’ll be the one staying cool on the road!

The bottom line is when the temperature reaches triple digits, try to keep as much of your skin covered as possible and to drink fluids at every gas stop while cooling in the shade or inside the store. Riding through “Hell” is never fun, but at least it gives you something to talk about at your next bike night!

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