Stay calm and don't panic - Festive season tips on what to do in a crash

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An accident scene
An accident scene

• Accidents are prone to happening during the festive season.

• Staying calm will go a long way in ensuring everyone lives in the event of an accident.

• Have emergency numbers nearby and located in an easy-to-find spot.

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As families set off to their annual holidays, no driver wants to think about the possibility of being involved in a car crash. The unfortunate truth is that it can still happen, despite your best efforts to avoid it. Now imagine a scene where you are hundreds of kilometres from home with a damaged car and injured passengers. What do you do?

As much as one does not want to think of that possibility, it pays to be prepared nonetheless. Once you have ensured that people and cars are out of the way of secondary collisions, check if there are any injuries. If there are, call emergency services immediately and do not try to move or treat their injuries yourself.

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While you should not move injured people, it is still better to move them if they are in harms way, for example, if fuel from the car is at risk of igniting. Never assist someone without first obtaining their or a fellow passenger's permission. Also, be cautious of assuming passengers and drivers are not injured because they are conscious and responding. If someone is dizzy or not feeling right, rather call emergency services.

Once you have handled injuries, decide what to do with the vehicle. Luckily, much of the decision-making has been removed from you as insurance companies have specific processes to follow. The key is to understand what your insurance provider wants you to do and have the necessary numbers and apps saved or downloaded on your phone before you leave. Unfortunately, valuable items can disappear in the hubbub after a crash, so keep this information somewhere else in the car as well.

An accident scene

Other steps to follow:

- In case you are unresponsive, have emergency numbers, medical aid details and other essential info stuck to your visor or on one of the windows.

- Before you move vehicles out of the way of potential secondary accidents, take photos of the car for insurance purposes. Do this as quickly as possible.

- Swap details with the driver of the other vehicle/s, get their insurance details and take photos of the documents if you can.

- Record as many details as possible including date, time, weather conditions, location, type of road on which the crash occurred, for example, intersection or highway and the direction each vehicle was travelling.

- Try recall details such as whether the driver was on their phone or possibly intoxicated.

As difficult as it is, the key is to remain calm. Getting angry with other drivers or panicking serves no purpose, especially if others are injured. Accept that it happened and handle the situation as best as you can.

An accident scene
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