As we write this, much of the U.K is getting hit from the ‘Beast in the East’. A rather nasty cold blast from the Baltics which is turning much of the U.K’s roads to impassable, or at least, more dangerous roads to travel on than normal. We’re going to take a look at what to do if you suffer a car breakdown, or if you get trapped in the snow with your vehicle.
Those of you old enough to remember the old Cub Scout phrase ‘be prepared’ will appreciate this first point. The forecasts have been telling us for a few days now that we are going to experience this cold blast so it shouldn’t really be a total surprise. But perhaps the speed and indeed intensity of the snow arriving is what has, or will catch many a driver out. If, before selling off, you could remember to pack a few items in the boot of your car, you will be in a much better position if you do get marooned.
Firstly, extra warm clothing is a must. We all love our car heaters cranked up to the max at the moment and that’s all well and good all the time that we are mobile, but not much good if we break down and have to sit in our cars awaiting recovery. With temperatures dipping to way below minus degrees centigrade even during the day time in some parts of the UK, even 30 or 40 minutes say still with a skimpy layer of clothing can cause the body temperature to dip dangerously low. A hat would be wise as one of these additional items of clothing as most of one’s heat is lost via the head.
Perhaps a rather odd suggestion, but it’s worth also putting in a flattened cardboard box or two. In the event of getting stuck in snow, or on ice, a piece or cardboard and the driving wheels (so either the front or back, depending on your car), could help you get off the hazzard on which you’ve been stuck. If you don’t have cardboard, even a pair or car mats could come in handy in such an occasion (though it would be a shame to ruin such an expensive accessory!)
Looking at our own internal stats, it would appear that battery or alternator failure could be a likely cause of car breakdown this week. So, a torch would be a good idea to pack if you’re expecing to drive at night, to warn oncoming drivers of imminent danger if you are stranded precariously ahead. And given the battery is a common point of failure, a set of jump leads could be a wise move to pack if you have them.
If you hit snow, you’l have to make a decision as to whether to continue or not. But, when attempting to drive out of a snow drift, don’t ‘floor it’. This would be dangerous to not just your own vehicle but also pedestrians and other vehicles around you. A car on snow or ice will not perform the same as when it’s got good grip on ‘dry land’. Plus, over accelerating is likely to see you dug in even deeper to a drift. Keep your wheels straight and always be aware of those around you if you do decide it’s safe enough to try and gently drive out. Obviously, if you have snow chains, and you get stranded in this way, that would be a good time to use them…