2008 December 4

It’s the time of year when many of us are planning long trips to be united with family or loved ones for the Christmas holidays. Whether we are going for a week with the folks or just driving across the country to be with our darling on Christmas Eve, it’s important to make sure that we are safe and that we’ve considered the safety of those around us.

While most of us will at least check the petrol, oil and water in the car, and glance at the tyres, not so many of us give the same consideration to our clothing, but when you consider all the risks and surprises that we might experience, it’s almost criminal not to.

Remember last year, with people travelling home after Christmas, trapped in snowdrifts? Ever thought about how many people spend New Year at airports because of bad weather? And who hasn’t had the horror of being stuck on a train, or a motorway, in crawling traffic, as the hours and miles refuse to pass? So how should we dress for these very common outcomes?

First think about who’s travelling with you – the very young and very old suffer more from the cold than average adults and can easily slip into mild hypothermia when the rest of us are merely chilly. Lots of heat is lost through the hands and head, so a good hat and gloves are important, even if you’re travelling in a vehicle – if you break down, that vehicle becomes nothing more than a big metal box, not much of an insulator!

As a driver, you should ensure your clothing is comfortable rather than smart – jog pants are ideal, as they allow you to get out and inspect your car if there are problems, and give enough warmth and mobility so that you can dig yourself out of snow or mud or change a tyre.

A range of tops is good, so that you can layer your upper clothing to cope with the conditions: it can be very hot in a travelling car, or chilly if you have to stop, so a T-shirt with a sweatshirt or polo over the top and a fleece coat will give you enough layers to cope with everything from the tropics to the arctic. Don’t forget good footwear and a hat for yourself, in case you have to stand on the side of the road waiting for the recovery vehicle.

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