good motoring
Tips for a safe drive in the snow
H. Kishie Singh

One of the most spectacular presentations that nature provides is a snow fall. If you happen to be in the hills, it is even more exhilarating and soul cleansing. February can see heavy snow in the Chur Dhar ranges.

For a lot of people it acts like a magnet. There are a number of off-roading clubs who have honed their skills in tackling sand dunes, perfected river crossings and crawling through marsh land.

Driving through snow will be a brand new experience. Because it is demanding and dangerous, be warned the danger involved is directly proportionate to the beauty. So prepare yourself.

First, never go alone. If you have a friend who has spent a few winters in Canada, consider him a guru. He will know all about driving in the snow and dealing with freezing temperatures.

Make sure your car is in 100 per cent road-worthy condition. Put the radiator on anti-freeze, windshield washer fluid should not be just water. It will freeze the moment it hits the windscreen. Use an additive easily available in the market. Tyres, especially the drive tyres must have a deep tread, and should not be worn out. This will give them the "bite" to claw through the snow.

Make sure your brakes, wipers, heater, defroster and exhaust are in order. A leaking exhaust can emit carbon mono-oxide into the cabin. With the windows rolled up. This can be dangerous.

Be prepared to get stuck in the snow. To be pulled out, you, need a tow-chain or strap. It is a must, learn how and where to attach it to your car. Try a dummy run at home. You’ll be prepared.

A shovel is a very handy item. In case you have to clear snow off the road, a shovel is the only answer. Snow chains make sure you can drive through deep snow. Snow chains are specially made to fit over the tyres. They provide tremendous traction in deep snow and on ice. They need practice to install and they do change the handling dynamics of the car. Don't try them out on your first outing.

Consider your own safety and comfort. Carry a couple of blankets. Hand towels, an extra pair of shoes and socks If your shoes and feet are wet, it is a very uncomfortable feeling. It will also drain your body heat.

Carry water, food, energy, biscuits or chocolates, not crispies and junk food. You will need nutritious food to keep you warm and alive. At sub-zero temperatures this is important. For this reason it is not recommended to have young children in the car. This is an adventure and children cannot be part of an adventure. They are susceptible to cold and will get irritable if stuck in the jam. This will be a distraction when you need to concentrate on the situation in hand.

Carry a brush, like you have at home to sweep carpets, brush the snow off the car windows in case you have been parked for any length of time and it is snowing. A flash light is a must, so is a first-aid kit. Carry a spare key tied to a bright red ribbon. In case you drop your key for some reason, you will be surprised how difficult it is to find it in snow.

Try not a have a fixed time schedule. In a snow storm, visibility can be very poor and driving slow. You may also be stuck in a jam. Don't get impatient but enjoy what could be a first-time experience.

Learn to use your defrost and heating controls properly. All-round visibility is essential to your safety and to enable you to enjoy the scenery. Keep alert, be observant. On a snow-covered road, an emergency can arise at any moment.

If you run into trouble and are stuck, you will be glad you have a second car to help you. If you are alone, stay with the car. It will be safer, call the police helpline. Be sure to have a full tank of fuel. You may have to take the long way back or simply keep the engine idling to stay warm. Happy Motoring !