Getting stranded in your car in winter weather can be a harrowing experience. However, having a strategy for handling the situation can do a lot to lower the stress level of everyone in the vehicle. Here are some tips for staying safe in a storm.
Be sure you want to go
If the forecast is calling for severe weather, consider delaying or rescheduling your trip.
We’ve blogged previously about assembling your cold weather kit. Having the right tools and supplies handy can make all the difference. You should also share your destination and estimated arrival time with someone who can alert authorities if you don’t show up as planned.
Call for help
As soon as you realize that you can’t get your vehicle moving, call a towing company or the police to request assistance if you have phone service. Notify a friend or family member as well. Don’t spend too long attempting to free your vehicle or assuming that another motorist will render aid.
Avoid gas line freeze-up
Try to keep your gas tank at least half full. While it means fueling up more frequently on a long trip, it can keep your gas line from freezing, a problem that can quickly take a situation from bad to worse when you are stranded.
Stay in your vehicle during a snowstorm
Your vehicle provides shelter and is the best place for searchers to find you. Attempting to walk to safety in the low visibility of a storm puts you at risk of getting lost or struck by another vehicle.
Use caution when digging or pushing
Overexerting yourself when attempting to free your vehicle can be dangerous, as can the combination of spinning tires and slippery footing.
Use fuel sparingly
If stranded for an extended period, run your engine just long enough to warm you and your passengers to a reasonable level. Conserving gasoline is critical.
Insulate to stay warm
Stuff whatever you can find (cloth, paper, etc.) into your jacket or clothing to help keep the cold out.
Keep your exhaust pipe clear
A blocked tailpipe can allow deadly carbon monoxide to accumulate in the passenger compartment. Periodically check the exhaust and remove snow as needed.
Signal for help
Tie a brightly colored piece of cloth to an antenna or secure it in a rolled-up window to let searchers know you need assistance. Leave your dome light on at night to increase your chances of being spotted.
The right preparation and strategy can turn a frightening experience into nothing more than a temporary inconvenience.