The AA is trying to re-educate the nation, not about speeding, or parking or even drinking and driving. They want us to re-learn our attitudes to clothing.
The recent cold weather has prompted them to tell us what to wear. Their head of safety says, ‘someone who is sat in a queue for three or four hours is at the same risk of hypothermia as someone stuck on a mountainside or tent. You may not have enough petrol to keep the engine going for four hours.’
The RAC have similar concerns – suggesting that anybody who has to make a journey over half an hour in any form of extreme weather should ‘take extra warm clothes, hats, gloves and high-visibility clothes, as well as food and hot drinks.’
All the breakdown patrols have had experiences with people who felt their cars would protect them from their cold and then discovered otherwise, finding people in sub-zero temperatures wearing very little more than spring clothing and often with children in nightwear and a blanket or sleeping bag – nowhere near enough to keep them safe from hypothermia. Children should, at a minimum be wearing two layers of clothing such as a sweatshirt and jacket – clothing can be removed while in the car, but shouldn’t be packed where it is difficult to get at. Because small children have a lower bodyweight than adults, it’s important to make them wear a hat if you leave the vehicle as much of the body’s heat is lost through the head.
The advice from emergency services for people driving in bad weather is to wear at least three layers of clothing – this should be something like thermal underwear, a T-shirt and a jumper and then to have a winter weight coat or jacket in the vehicle, along with a hat and gloves. It’s important to ensure that the vehicle also contains something waterproof and high-visibility for every member of the family in case you have to leave your car and stand behind a motorway barrier while you wait to be rescued. Don’t forget that if you travel with pets, they also need to be protected from bad weather.