Bushfires close northern NSW roads

Bushfire heat dehydration

The popular motorcycle routes of Summerland Way and the Gwydir Highway in northern NSW are closed due to bushfires.

An 11km stretch of Summerland Way between Leeville and Whiporie and a 5km section of the Gwydir Highway from east of Jackadgery to Eatonsville are closed for back burning and tree clearing.

The highway is also closed between Ramornie Station and Tindal roads.

Riders should consider alternate routes.

Emergency work being carried out includes specialists examining trees along and nearby the road to assess and manage the risk of them falling, inspecting road infrastructure such as bridges, culverts and safety barriers, as well as clearing debris from the road.

For the latest traffic updates download the Live Traffic NSW App, visit livetraffic.com or call 132 701.

Bushfire warnings

Meanwhile, there are also bushfire cautions about riding through areas of south east Queensland.

Before heading off this weekend, riders should check online for bushfires in Queensland and in NSW on the RFS or SES websites.

Police and emergency services are urging all motorists, in particular vulnerable motorcyclists, to heed warnings, avoid danger areas and stay hydrated.Dehydration motorcycle gear Riders dies of dehydration in heatwave dust storm

Riders should be aware of the dangers of riding in bushfire areas and of accidentally starting bushfires in the current tinder-dry drought conditions.

By all means riders should head out into the country to spend their much-needed dollar in drought-stricken areas, but they should also be alert to the bushfire conditions.

Dangers of bushfires

Bushfires can spread rapidly and even outrun a vulnerable rider.

Riders are also in danger from smoke inhalation and low visibility and eye irritation from smoke.Bushfires Harley Softail

But rural fire services also say several fires have been sparked by motorcycles.

They say about 40% of all bushfires are accidentally started by humans dropping cigarette butts, campfires, discarding bottles, sparks from machinery and motorcycles.

Most riders who accidentally spark these blazes are off-road and adventure bikes riding in the bush and on forestry tracks.Bushfires BMW R 1200 GS

However, there is also the possibility of fires being started by road bikes if the rider pulls over to the side of the road where they may be long, dry grass.

The bike’s engine, exhaust, or catalytic convertor can be hot enough to set grass alight.

Tips to avoid dehydration in a heatwave:

  1. Don’t drink too much alcohol the night before a ride. It has a diuretic effect which means it causes you to urinate more water than you take in which means you are losing fluid. And you can’t counteract that by drinking lots of water because most of it will go out in your urine. Obviously, don’t drink alcohol while you are riding!
  2. Start drinking water as soon as you wake and keep sipping water right up until you get on your bike. It takes about half an hour for water to reach your muscles. Guzzling water just before a ride is not good as it can make your stomach to cramp. The Royal Flying Doctor Service which has attended dehydrated riders in the Outback, recommends carrying 10 litres of water per day! Read their Outback riding tips here.
  3. Wear ventilated motorcycle clothing. Leathers may protect you better in a crash, but they create a “microclimate” which impairs your ability to lose heat. As a result you will produce more sweat to decrease your core temp. Instead, wear a flow-through jacket. There are heaps of options on the market. Make sure they have vents in the back so the air flows through. Also, loosen the sleeves so you get plenty of air on your wrists which have a lot of blood vessels close to the skin to effectively cool you down. However, be aware that a flow-through jacket cools you down because it is drying the sweat off your skin which can lead to dehydration. A set of Ventz up your sleeve will also keep you cool as air flows up your arms.However, don’t be fooled by your level of coolness as ventilation can also cause you to loose more water through evaporation. So you still need to keep drinking plenty of water.

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  4. Don’t be tempted to remove your jacket in the heat! Exposed skin may feel cooler, but that’s because the sweat is evaporating quicker, but that is just making you more dehydrated. And while your skin feels cool, you’ll be tricked into staying in the sun longer which leads to sunburn. That also leads to dehydration because your body needs water to repair and renew damaged skin.
  5. Get a Camelbak or other brand of water-dispensing unit so you can continue to take small sips of water while you are riding. I’ve seen riders on GoldWings and other big tourers with cup holders so they can take slurps from a water bottle. That’s obviously not as safe as the hands-free Camelback option, but anything is better than nothing. Some people don’t like Camelbaks because the water gets hot, but the temperature of the water doesn’t affect dehydration.Camelbak reduces dehydration heatwave dust storm
  6. Stop more often than usual and hang out in the shade or in an air-conditioned cafe. Since you are drinking lots of fluids, you will probably need to stop anyway!
  7. While you’re stopped, have a coffee, but take it easy. No need to swear off your favourite caramel latte, but avoid excess coffee. That also goes for caffeinated drinks such as Red Bull. High levels of caffeine have a diuretic effect just like alcohol.
  8. While having a coffee break, avoid having too many sweet cakes, donuts and muffins. Sugar can dehydrate you if it gets to very high levels in your blood. This can happen if you are a diabetic, take certain medications or have an infection or some organ diseases. Sugar causes your kidneys to produce more urine to eliminate the sugar, leading to dehydration. Likewise, don’t drink too many sugary drinks. Best to stick to plain water, real fruit juices with no added sugar or drinks such as Gatorade that replace salts and minerals lost in sweat.
  9. We’ve talked a lot about urine and it’s important that you monitor the colour. It should be a straw colour. If it’s too dark, you are dehydrated.
  10. Sweat also depletes your body of sodium and if it becomes too low, it can cause many of the same symptoms as dehydration. The average diet probably has enough sodium, but it’s good to have a little bit of salt on your meals or drink sports drinks that have a sodium supplement. However, beware of sports drinks with caffeine and sugar.
  11. Ok, I know I said there were only 10 tips, but dehydration doesn’t just occur in a heatwave. In winter, the cold can shut off the body’s thirst mechanism and trick you into thinking you’re not sweating. Meanwhile, your body is losing fluids as the air passes over your body.

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