Navigating through fog


Fog, a cloud that touches the ground, can cause anywhere from a light disturbance in visibility to total obscurity. The heavier the fog, the more care must be taken when traveling. Many serious accidents have occurred due to the lack of visibility in heavy foggy conditions. By knowing some very important tips, navigating through fog can be safer.

One of the dangers of navigating through fog while driving is having a rear-end collision. Heavy fog conditions occur mostly on roads in low lying areas and roads on steep inclines. Due to decreased visibility, it is necessary to slow down considerably to avoid crashing into another car as they often may seem to appear from nowhere in the fog.

Pedestrians are also harder to see when navigating through fog and therefore at greater risk of being hit. Not only are pedestrians at higher risk of becoming accident victims in foggy conditions, but medical assistance can also be hindered due to the inevitable disorientation that results from not being able to easily read street signs to ascertain exact locations.

Fog lights are extremely helpful when they are positioned correctly when navigating through fog. However, if the fog lights are improperly mounted, they can cause even more disruption to the visibility of the driver of the primary car and surrounding drivers. To properly mount fog lights, the car should have at least 1/2 tank of gasoline in the tank, the usual amount of trunk contents, and a person weighing exactly or close to the weight of the most frequent driver of the car. The fog lights should be mounted under the front bumper.The nose of the car should be pointed at a wall 25 feet away and the regular head lights turned on. The center of the reflections of the headlights should be marked and then the headlights turned off. Then the fog lights should be turned on and adjusted such that the the top of the reflection is 4 inches below the center marks of the regular headlight reflections. This adjustment will ensure that the fog lights do not cause a blinding glare for the primary driver or other drivers close by.

Navigating through fog in a boat is not impossible through proper planning and the use of the proper equipment. The danger of unintentionally moving farther from shore instead of closer in heavy fog is an enormous danger to be avoided.

The United States Coast Guard requires that all boaters have flotation devices and noise makers. However, in the event of heavy fog when shorelines are obscured, a self-righting ball compass and a source of light are also necessary.

Before leaving, the self-righting ball compass should be pointed toward the shore and held in the boater’s hand whose outstretched arm is perpendicular to the shore. A reading should be taken at this time. In the event of heavy fog, the compass reading to follow is the same as this initial reading. The light source is used to allow the reading of the compass and should be done often when visibility is obscured. The ball compass should be secured to the pant leg or the shirt sleeve with a safety pin for quick and easy access. As navigation toward the shore is accomplished in heavy fog, familiar light patterns and land marks will become evident. Sometimes due to currents, winds, and lateral distances, the return site to the shore may not be exact, but it will be close enough. It is of utmost importance that whenever navigating through fog on the water that the compass reading be followed and not one’s instincts.

Navigating through fog in aircraft should be avoided if at all possible. Weather reports should always be sought before aircraft flights. Flights should be cancelled or postponed in foggy weather. However, if flying under foggy conditions must be done, the best tip recommends that instruments and GPS equipment be used instead of instincts. Holes in the fog are also very misleading and should not be approached even when patches of blue sky seem to be visible through them.

The best tip on navigating through fog whether on the water, on land, or in the air is to avoid it completely.

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