Behind the Wheel

Don't Panic: Here's What To Do If You Get Stranded In Your Car This Winter!

December 23, 2014
Have you ever thought about what would happen if your car got stuck in a snow storm? Would you have any idea what to do? Unfortunately, in many parts of the country this situation is not that uncommon. Despite winter storm watches, modern technology and advances in the automotive industry, your car is not invincible to ol’ Mother Nature. You need to be armed with the knowledge of what to do if it were to happen to you, and I’m here to make that happen! We’ve still got a bit of time before the dead of winter is upon us, so let’s head into the season ready for whatever might happen during our holiday travels! Here are my tips for what to do if your car gets stuck in a winter storm: 1. Avoid getting yourself in the situation in the first place! As I said before, sometimes getting stuck in a winter storm while on the road is unavoidable. But more often than not, the cars stuck in a storm could’ve avoided the situation if they really wanted to. If there’s a heavy snowfall or blizzard going down before you even leave the house, DO NOT get on the road in those conditions. It doesn’t matter how far you plan on traveling or how tough you think your car is — in reality, you just shouldn’t be risking it. Even if you have to cancel plans, miss a day of work, etc…avoid the road at all costs. 2. Have emergency gear on hand. Now that we’ve got that covered, let’s talk about what to do when all else fails and you actually do get stuck. I recommend having a handful of items in your car all winter long, just to be on the safe side. These items could save your life!
  • one or two wool blankets
  • flashlight and batteries
  • first aid kit
  • non-perishable food to last 72 hours
  • bottled water
  • extra set of clothes
  • matches and candles
  • sack of sand (to provide traction for tires)
  • towing rope
3. Get your car ready for winter. This could be a long post on its own, but there’s a lot you can do to make sure your car is in the best shape possible for driving in snow. It might save you from getting stuck in the first place! Here’s a great list to serve as your guide. 4. Stay with your car. Unless you are absolutely certain of where you have gotten stuck and how close a gas station or help might be found, don’t leave your car! You might think you’re in a bad situation, but nothing could be worse than leaving the car to get help, and getting lost in the blizzard without any shelter at all. 5. Attract attention. Since it’s not a good idea to leave your car behind, you’ll need to try to get people to come to you. And in a sea of white snow, that can be a hard task. So make sure to do everything possible to attract attention to your car. Light flares, tie bright fabric to your antennae, flash your brights (if they are visible), and anything else you can think of. 6. Keep a window cracked. Even though you surely want to be blocking out the winter cold, you’ll need to keep at least one window slightly open so that your car doesn’t completely seal up in the freezing temperatures. You want people to be able to rescue you when they come! 7. Don’t run the engine or heater. This is another one that might seem counter-intuitive, but running the car will waste precious gas, and running the heater can use up oxygen in the car and create carbon monoxide if the exhaust pipe is not cleared. It’s best to try to get heat from blankets, candles and clothing. If you follow all of these steps, there’s a good chance you’ll be just fine in a winter storm. Most people who find themselves stranded are usually rescued or able to get out on their own within 24 hours. So be sure to remember these steps and be prepared!

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