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Fogged Up

Fogged Up

MASTER SGT. LARRY R. SNYDER JR.
Headquarters Support Company
Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion
28th Infantry Division
Pennsylvania Army National Guard
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

I’ve taken many long motorcycle trips over the past few years. On this one, however, I was caught by surprise. It wasn’t anything big — just something that had never crossed my mind.

I was getting ready to make the 927-mile trip from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to Fort Rucker, Alabama, to attend the Ground Safety Officer Couse. As such, I knew I needed to be completely ready for such a long trip. The last thing I wanted to do was be involved in a preventable accident without the proper personal protective equipment while on my way to the Army’s safety center. That’s probably not the best thing to enhance your career, right?

According to my iPhone, the trip would call for 15 hours, 45 minutes of riding, so I knew I needed to check all my lists to make sure I was ready. The week before I was to leave, I took my Harley Davidson Road King for a full service and state inspection. I went through all my riding gear and double-checked that I had everything I needed, including rain gear, a Department of Transportation-approved helmet, full-fingered leather gloves, leather over-the-ankle-boots, long jeans, long-sleeved shirts and a leather vest. The final thing I needed was some new eye protection to replace my scratched pair. I went to Fort Indiantown Gap and purchased new Uvex Genesis eye protection since I could get military prescription inserts made, which I ordered and put in before the trip.

When the morning to depart finally arrived, I packed the bike and headed south on Interstate 81. All was good for the first 200 miles or so, and then it started to rain. As usual, I stopped right away to wait it out or at least let the rain wash the road clear of oil and other slippery stuff. As luck would have it, there was a Harley Davidson dealership at the next exit, so I pulled in, went inside and started talking to one of the servicemen. As we talked, he pulled out his cellphone and showed me the bad news — it was expected to rain all day long. Since I did not have the time to wait one or two days for clear weather, I knew the best thing to do was put on my rain gear and keep going.

I traveled the rest of the way though Virginia and into North Carolina with no issues other than that never-ending rain. I eventually made it to a rest area, where I stopped to dry out and to take a break. At the rest stop, the rain tapered off to a slight drizzle, so I figured my luck was about to change. I waited for about another hour before the sun started peeking through the clouds. I then decided to head out again to Charlotte, North Carolina, where I had a hotel reservation for the night.

About a mile down the road from the rest area, I came to the top of a hill with signs that warned of steep grades and advised tractor-trailers to stay under 30 mph. As I started down the hill, the sun came out, but the rain started pouring really hard. I also noticed it was now getting a lot warmer. Just then, my eye protection completely fogged up on me in a matter of a second or two. I was in big trouble.

The rain was already making it difficult for me to see, but now I was nearly blind because of the fogging. I quickly wiped my finger on the front of my eye pro to no avail. Then I wiped my finger on the inside of my eye pro, but that didn’t help either. They had fogged between my prescription inserts and the tinted lenses. At the moment, I couldn’t take them off either because of the massive downpour. I wouldn’t have been able to keep my eyes open. All I could do was tough it out and hope!

As I traveled down a steep decline, I was surrounded by cars and tractor-trailers. I still couldn’t see and I knew they probably couldn’t see me either because of the rain. For a few seconds, I was deathly scared! I just knew I was about to become a statistic. I couldn’t go anywhere but forward. If a vehicle stopped in front of me or the road suddenly curved, I was going to crash and burn. Luckily, no one stopped and the road didn’t turn until I was able to travel another couple of thousand feet and safely pull off the road.

After I stopped, I pulled out my eye pro case so I could wipe down the glasses with a cleaning cloth. Low and behold, there in the case was a bottle of anti-fog drops — brand new and never used. I had noticed the bottle when I bought the eye pro but never gave it a thought. When I got to the hotel that night, I read the instructions that were still folded in the case. As plain as day, the instructions explained fogging and how to prevent it with the included drops. Had I read that before I started my trip, I could have saved myself a very close call.

I learned an important lesson that day: Even after going through all of your checklists and taking every precaution you can think of, be alert, use everything that comes with your gear and always read your user instructions. As I found out, that one little thing you forgot about can jump up and bite you.

  • 30 June 2015
  • Author: Army Safety
  • Number of views: 10381
  • Comments: 0
Categories: Off-DutyPMV-2
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