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Tuesday, May 24, 2022
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When stuck in snowstorm

"My advice to future adventurers: don't forget to carry a few blankets, boots, life-saving drugs, a shovel, sufficient petrol and an ice scraper before going to a hill station either in June or January"

Murree has often been gathering bad press and social media storms for quite some time regardless of the time of the year. All over the world, the hospitality industry has to confront the carefree, violent holidaymakers but Murree hosts quite a majority of inhospitable and hostile hotels. I have never experienced such an ordeal, but from what I have gotten to know through social media posts and have heard from some friends, it is easy to make a generalized statement about the Murree hoteliers. Those who visit the scenic resort, come back with the stories of bad behaviour of hotel staff, overcharging, bad services, insults, fistfights, and so on. Otherwise, the mainstream media keeps on reporting about the active timber mafias, encroachment, mushroom growth of concrete and wild rush of vehicles in the hill town. In the usual fuss, however, vacationer as well as the general public started cursing the government and disaster management authorities when 22 people, who had been stranded on Murree roads in a snowstorm last week, were retrieved dead from their vehicles on Saturday morning. Thousand others emerged as a lucky survivor despite the fact they were also left shivering for hours, and were unable to move anywhere along the wild jungles.

The storm has passed, leaving a trail of death, destruction and blame game. Public safety departments have woken up with remedial measures, such as offering compensation to the heirs of deceased people and managing measures for the future tourists’ safety.

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I came across a few survivors, and after going through their accounts, I have drawn some conclusions as well as lessons.

It is safe to say that most of the tourists and government agencies were not prepared for the storm.

Did you check the weather forecast before crossing the Murree Toll Plaza?

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I asked the survivors and 100 percent of them said ‘no’. They, however, said had they known in advance about the snowstorm, they would have left the town earlier, and would have never gone there.

What essentials were they carrying on that fateful day?

Well, most of them had a plenty of money, some food, clothes, mobile phones, power banks, and a few books.

My advice to future adventurers: don’t forget to carry a few blankets, boots, life-saving drugs, a shovel, sufficient petrol and an ice scraper before going to a hill station either in June or January.

My next question was: were they prepared to be stuck in gridlock while the road was all snow white?

Traffic jams are a common sight in cities like Lahore and Rawalpindi. Since respondents in this conversation are from these two cities, they said they did not initially panic or get anxious in the traffic gridlock. As the time passed by, their anxiety turned into fear and later a nightmare.

I spoke to a security expert. The valuable advice from the expert is that in such situations, when outside is the snowstorm, the safest place is your car.

But these cars became a death trap for 22 people. How well can one remain safe in their car during a storm?

“If the car has full occupancy, there will be enough heat inside the vehicle as human bodies emit warmth,” says the expert.

“In case you’re alone, don’t panic. Just remind yourself that you’re not alone here. Moreover, switch on the car and heater for five minutes after every half an hour. You need to save both petrol and life. Time to time check your car’s silencer pipe. If it is buried under snow, clear it immediately to contain the emission of carbon monoxide from the exhaust.”

Meanwhile, while the road clearance arrangements are in the works, feed yourself with fat and carbohydrates, such as chocolates, and nuts. And the most important thing: don’t overuse mobile phone. You may use it in the case of extreme emergency. When the storm is over, and road cleared, don’t rush, drive slowly as city people are not used to driving on icy roads.

Once you are home safe and sound, after experiencing a snowstorm, treat yourself with a nice meal with your family. After every storm, life goes on.

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