Snow Safety

December 11th, 2017

Welcome to the Big Freeze of 2017! For all of the country the weather has turned incredibly cold and winter-like. Over the weekend, much of the western side of the UK saw huge amounts of snow fall – the largest snowfall seen since the winter of 2010. Travel plans were in chaos, power supplies were down, schools closed, post services cancelled and snowmen were standing guard outside schools, houses and farms across Wales.

We may think that this winter is one of the coldest in recent times, but the average snowfall is nothing compared to the Big Freeze of 1963, which was one of the coldest periods ever recorded in the UK. At the end of December 1962, a blizzard swept across the southern half of the UK, with snowdrifts of up to 20 foot in places. Roads and railways were blocked, and to make matters worse, temperatures plummeted and stayed down which meant that the difficult conditions and the snow stayed for over two months! By January 1963, the temperatures were so cold that in Kent, the sea froze for a mile from the shore! Rivers and lakes froze over, and the temperatures didn’t start to increase until the end of February.

Snow in 1962

Hopefully the weather this winter won’t be quite as bad as it was back in 1963, but it’s still very cold out there, and quite disruptive for many people. The general advice is not to travel out or drive in the snow unless it’s absolutely necessary, but if you’ve got an essential journey that can’t be put off, then here are our top tips for Snow Safety:

  • Check the forecast before you travel, and also check online for updates to road closures etc to make sure you aren’t caught out.
  • Allow time to warm the car engine properly, and make sure all the windows are clear. It is illegal to drive without full visibility through the windscreen.
  • Pack for the worst – be prepared and pack a survival kit, consisting of a shovel, torch, blankets, food and flask. And of course, make sure your mobile phone is fully charged so that you can call for help if you need it.
  • Leave more time for your journey – it’s likely to take much longer.
  • When you’re on the road, accelerate gently, use low revs and move up the gears as soon as you can to avoid wheelspins.
  • Make sure you leave more space than usual between yourself and the car in front in case of skids and sudden stops.
  • Use a low gear for going downhill and try to avoid braking unless absolutely necessary.
  • If your car does lose it’s grip and you find yourself skidding, try not to panic. Take your foot off the accelerator, steer into the skid and don’t stamp on the brakes.
  • Drive slowly and keep your speed down to allow extra time to stop and steer.
  • And when you reach your destination, celebrate by building a cheery snowman!

Stay safe in the snow!

Karen Barefoot on