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Here's how to drive if you find yourself caught in veld fires

2019-02-24 08:00
Fire truck

Image: Motorpress

A fire near Franschhoek Pass is proving difficult to extinguish and the road has been closed as a result earlier this week. 

Even though the main road affected by the fire has been closed, there are likely other roads where the smoke is creating challenges for drivers.

What to do

Motorists caught in thick smoke of veld fires are at risk of crashing due to limited visibility.

READ: Horror Knysna fire: 12 ways to handle fires on the road

Drivers in the area need to be prepared and learn how to react if caught in the fire.

Eugene Herbert, MD of MasterDrive, provides some tips on how to drive through a veld fire:

1 Listen to traffic broadcasts and avoid areas which are affected by the fire as much as possible.

2 If you are caught in a fire reduce your speed as visibility will be severely reduced.

3 While it is recommended to always drive with your headlights on, ensure your lights are on so that your visibility to other drivers is increased.

4 If the smoke is extremely thick do not attempt to drive through it. You risk colliding with other vehicles doing the same or risk driving off the road into the fire. Rather safely turn around and find another route.

5 If you need to stop, find a clearing or a section of the roadside which has low vegetation. Turn your ignition off and switch on the lights and emergency lights.

6 Do not exit your car. Your car is the safest place to be if you are caught in a fire as it provides the most protection from heat and smoke.

7 Unlike portrayals in the movies, the petrol tank is unlikely to explode from the heat of a veld fire.

8 Stay low in your car and keep the windows and vents closed while you wait for the fire to pass.

9 If, once the fire has passed, the smoke and heat in the car does become too extreme get out and move to an area which is already burnt, ideally keeping your body covered.

10 Give emergency vehicles priority on the roads and listen to their instructions. They have the most experience and will get you safely out of a veld fire.

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