Sightseeing in The Snow – Travel Safe

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Snow is fun and for most South Africans, an exciting novelty. Our delight may be short-lived however if we don’t take the necessary measures to ensure the well-being and safety of ourselves and our loved ones when visiting snowy regions. Here are a few ways you can make that trip to the snow as hassle-free as possible.

Ensure Your Vehicle is Roadworthy: Very few of us can say we do a full vehicle check before every trip. However, if you are planning on taking your family to see the snow, this is one occasion when checking your vehicle is essential. Make sure that your tires are roadworthy have sufficient tread. Also, ensure you have a full tank of petrol as well as water and oil. Check your brakes, clutch, battery and windshield wipers – see that they are all relatively new or well serviced and in working order. Keep a set of jumper cables with you for emergencies. It may also be a good idea to keep a small shovel and a bag of cat litter or sand for traction in the boot of your car should you become stuck.

Check weather conditions before you leave: Yes, you would like to see the snow but you don’t want to be travelling during a storm or even a small blizzard. Check the weather reports before you leave and make sure the roads are clear and passable on your route. Let someone know where you are planning to travel and the route you are taking, they can raise the alarm should need be.

Drive safely: Keep a watch out for “black ice.” If a road looks slick, the chances are, that it is. One of the reasons for this is, “black ice,” a nearly transparent ice that often looks like a harmless puddle or is overlooked entirely. When you need to stop in an emergency avoid sudden braking if at all possible. Squeeze braking (also known as threshold braking) along with declutching (manual shift) or shifting to neutral (automatic transmission) is the best means of bringing your car to a stop. Regardless of the vehicle you are driving or your personal driving ability, icy, snowy conditions are extremely hazardous and you should drive with caution at all times. Do not engage cruise-control in icy areas. Maintain a safe following distance at all times – this is important because if you have to brake and your cars response is slowed because of ice, you have time to recover and gain control before an accident occurs. Take Blankets: It’s a good idea to keep a couple of warm blankets in the car. South African motor vehicles are not always well insulated or fitted to deal with extreme cold. Should your car become stuck or stranded in a snowy or cold region, it’s important to keep warm while waiting for assistance.. Dress appropriately: The secret here is layered clothing with an outer layer that is also water and wind resistant. Keep in mind, snow is wet and the chill-factor of the winds that accompanies snowfall can be really biting. Certain camping stores and outfitters can assist you in purchasing lightweight and weatherproof clothing that will keep you warm and dry if you’re planning to play in the snow. Remember on your checklist to include gloves, hats and scarves as well as warm, sensible shoes and socks. Keep prescribed medications with you: Ensure that you always carry your prescribed medications in case of emergencies and if you are travelling quite some distance from home. Asthmatics, diabetics, cardiac patients – are just some of the chronic sufferers that may be at risk if they are unable to access their medication when needed. Have an emergency/disaster kit in the car: As well as an emergency kit with any medical supplies you might need, be sure and remember to pack water, snack bars and food rations. Keep a fully charged phone with you: Most of us today own a cell phone. However make sure that you have at least one phone with you that is fully charged, or keep a car charger handy. It’s important to have some way to communicate or call for help should you or your car become stuck or stranded. Snow days are meant to be a grand adventure and they can be, just remember to behave responsibly, stay safe – oh and above all, have a great time!

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