Safety tips when driving through an ashfall
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Safety tips when driving through an ashfall

Romar Fernando

July 7, 2021

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    Photo Credit: New Scientist

    Do you still remember the horror of the sudden eruption of Taal Volcano last January 12, 2020? Where were you, then? Were you driving near Tagaytay, Batangas, or Cavite? How was your experience?

    That was Sunday, almost everyone was out because the family day. The Christmas season was just went off and the vacation fever was still on. Ashfall driven by the eruption had reached Metro Manila and adjacent provinces. Thousands of motorists were unlucky being caught of the ashfall while on the road.

    Well, the same horror is imminent when the same Taal Volcano had emitted dark phreatomagmatic plume last July 1 and until now, still under Alert Level 3.

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    Photo Credit: Rappler

    So, in case that we might encounter the same scenario one of these days, here are some safety tips:

    First, drive slowly and as much as possible, maintain a significant distance to the vehicle in front. Always remember that driving through an ashfall is much like driving through a storm.

    Then, if the visibility is too low, just pull over. If you find it too difficult to navigate, find a safe place to stop. Wipers on you windshield cannot easily clean off ash, so it can make your visibility worse.

    Next, do not drive nor idle your vehicle for extended period of time. If you idle your car for too long, it can make your car filters clogged with ashes. To avoid engine problems, refrain from driving through an ashfall or if you’re leaving the epicenter of the emergency and stuck in a gridlock, just turn off the engine.

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    Photo Credit: Top Gear Philippines

    After been battling with ashfall, have your vehicle thoroughly cleaned as soon as possible. Yes, thoroughly. Those ashes that have accumulated on your car during travel can find its way to the inside of the engine bay, clogging the fans and the belts. When ashes get wet, it will be sticky and be difficult to wash off that will affect the cooling capability of the radiator.

    And lastly, as a default setting for most vehicles, recirculate the air-conditioning unit. Our priority is to not breathe in and absorb ash particles.

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    Photo Credit: Time Magazine

    Of course, we’re still in the middle of the pandemic, so masking would be in our list. So, if things got worse, a pandemic combined with a natural phenomenon, keep your masks on.

    Stay safe and sound.

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