This summer has brought record heat throughout the country, and this produces some unique challenges for those who work outside. Regarding summer route delivery tips, it is important to understand the health risks of high temperatures and the heat-related illnesses that can come with them. Secondly, it is important to include vehicle maintenance as well. The AC going out on your delivery vehicle, a fan that will not function, or even a roadside breakdown can make the heat even more unbearable.
Here is a comprehensive guide to summer route delivery tips, whether you are an Amazon Delivery Service Partner or FedEx Ground Route business owner and driver or run another delivery service.
Understanding Heat-Related Illnesses
While cold-related illnesses are known as hypothermia, heat-related illnesses, known as hyperthermia, are health conditions that occur when your body becomes excessively hot and can no longer regulate and lower your body temperature. They include a spectrum of disorders that range from mild to potentially life-threatening ones. These health issues are caused by prolonged or intense exposure to hot temperatures, often accompanied by dehydration, which disrupts the body’s heat-regulating mechanisms.
Here are a few of the most common of them:
- Heat Rash: Also known as prickly heat, it’s a skin irritation caused by excessive sweating. It can occur at any age but is most common in young children. While you may not experience this as a driver, when temperatures are extreme, it can manifest itself and be very uncomfortable.
- Heat Cramps: These are painful, involuntary muscle spasms that typically occur during heavy exercise in hot environments. They are often associated with dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. These can be common complaints when lifting packages and running them to doorways.
- Heat Exhaustion: More severe than heat cramps, symptoms include heavy sweating, rapid pulse, dizziness, fatigue, cool, moist skin with goose bumps even in the heat, and muscle cramps. It’s caused by exposure to high temperatures, particularly when combined with high humidity and strenuous physical activity, like the normal daily activities of delivery drivers.
- Heat Stroke: The most severe form of heat illness, it’s a life-threatening emergency and requires immediate medical attention. It occurs when the body’s temperature rises dangerously high (above 104°F or 40°C). Symptoms include altered mental state or behavior, nausea and vomiting, flushed skin, rapid breathing, racing heart rate, and headache.
As stated above, these illnesses happen when it is hot outside and, more often, when it is humid as well. Causes include:
- Dehydration: Not drinking enough fluids can make it harder for your body to cool itself down, and those fluids should include electrolytes. Good choices include Gatorade, Powerade, and others. Poor choices include sugary energy drinks, soda, and caffeine-heavy beverages.
- Age: Adults over 65 are at higher risk, but even drivers over 50 need to be mindful of these risks.
- Obesity: Excess weight can affect the body’s ability to regulate its temperature and cause it to retain more heat.
- Certain medications: Some medications can affect how your body responds to heat.
- Certain health conditions: Chronic illnesses, such as heart or lung disease, might increase your risk of heat-related illnesses.
It’s important to understand and recognize the symptoms of these illnesses, as prompt action can prevent them from becoming dangerous. Heat-related conditions can lead to vital organ damage or even death if left untreated. It’s serious business, so if you feel any symptoms, stop, hydrate, rest as needed, and practice self-care before returning to your route.
Practical Summer Route Delivery Tips for Beating the Heat
As a delivery driver, you must be outside, and you can’t just not do your job. But you can take practical steps to beat the heat. Here are a few of them.
Start Early: Make the most of cooler morning hours and start your route as early as possible.
Stay Hydrated: Drink water and electrolyte beverages designed to hydrate you often. Increase your intake as the heat of the day increases.
Dress Smart: Wear lighter shirts and uniforms designed for summer. Often a white, long-sleeved undershirt can help prevent sunburn and keep you cooler than bare arms. Where a hat to protect your head and shade your eyes from the intense sun. Ensure your shoes are comfortable and well-ventilated. Wear summer-style socks to keep your feet from sweating.
Healthy Diet: Eat healthy foods high in antioxidants like fruit and vegetables. Avoid fatty or heavy foods loaded with grease, and avoid high-sugar snacks. Your diet can help your body stay cooler.
Rest and Shade: Be sure to take breaks, and when you do, find shade or an air-conditioned indoor spot where you can eat, drink, and rest.
Use of Cooling Products: Use cooling towels, portable fans, and other devices to keep yourself cool. Often a cooling neck wrap can make a huge difference throughout the day. Be sure to rewet it often, and have a cooler with ice with you throughout the day.
Vehicle Summer Route Delivery Tips for Handling the Summer Heat
We often discuss regular vehicle maintenance on this blog, which is especially vital at critical times of the year. Pay special attention to your vehicle’s cooling system in the summer, and have it checked regularly.
Have your AC system checked and prepped for summer, and if it stops working, get it repaired as soon as possible. This is vital for your health and safety.
When you park your vehicle, park in the shade when possible, and use window shades and other methods to keep the interior as cool as possible. Your AC will not have to work as hard, and you’ll be more comfortable throughout the heat of the day.
Technology and Apps to Aid Heat Management
Fortunately, you are not on your own regarding heat management. There are apps and technology you can use to keep yourself safe and manage the heat of summer when you are out on your route making deliveries.
- Know the weather before you start your day. Know when the heat will be at its worst, and plan your day accordingly. Schedule more breaks and time out of the heat when temperatures are at their highest.
- Use a hydration reminder app if you struggle to drink enough water throughout the day. These reminders, whether on your smartwatch or phone, can help you stay ahead of the hydration curve.
- Set heat index alerts and ensure you know when heat is most dangerous. Sometimes when you are out delivering all day, you may not realize how much the temperature or humidity has risen. Getting an alert can help you make the right decisions about breaks, rest, and hydration.
Another great reminder is to simply set up breaks throughout your day and stick with them. You’ll be more productive and safer if you do.
Remember, you, as a route owner, are not only responsible for your own safety but for that of your employees, contractors, and drivers as well. This means you need to educate them and provide them with the tools they need to remain safe.
If a breakdown occurs or a driver needs help, respond immediately. Have a plan to help drivers finish their routes earlier if the heat is intense, and be sure to set expectations for them that consider the weather.
Your employees and drivers are the lifeblood you’re your business, and you cannot function without them, so be sure they have access to technology, the right uniforms, hydration, and that their vehicles are prepared for the heat of summer.
They’ll be happier and stay healthier as a result, allowing your route delivery business to run smoothly.
Staying Safe With Summer Route Delivery Tips
Your drivers and vehicles are your lifeblood, and the summer heat can be especially hard on them. Here are some resources you can share with them that will help:
- The OSHA Heat Safety Guidelines: https://www.osha.gov/heat
- The 9 Best Hydration Apps: https://www.healthline.com/health/hydration-top-iphone-android-apps-drinking-water
- The Best Weather Alert Apps: https://www.tomsguide.com/round-up/best-weather-apps
- OSHA’s Heat Safety Tool App: https://www.osha.gov/heat/heat-app
These apps are available for Android, iOS, and most are inexpensive or free. Share these resources with your drivers and use them yourself. You are your best defense against heat-related illness and vehicle issues in the heat of summer.
All of these summer route delivery tips apply whether you are an Amazon Delivery Service Partner route owner, a FedEx Ground Route delivery contractor, or run another delivery business. And if you are just starting out, they are things you want to consider going forward.
Summer is also a great time to buy or sell a delivery route as well. It’s a great time to learn the ropes or transition to another business or career. Whatever your circumstance, we are here to help.
If you don’t own a route already but would like to, or if you are a route owner who would like to expand your business, contact us today at Route Advisors. We can help you find the right route at the right price and would love to start a conversation with you today. Contact us, and let us know how we can help.