What to Do If You Get Stranded in the Winter

Most people listen to warnings about staying home during icy or snowy weather but not always. Whether your car slips on ice or your car dies, being stuck on the side of the road in the winter can be dangerous. Since being stranded can happen to anyone, keep these tips in mind as you drive around this winter.

Be Prepared Beforehand

Don’t wait until something bad happens before you decide to keep your car stocked with supplies to keep you warm and comfortable. Keep a stash of essentials such as blankets, socks, hand warmers, ice scraper, nonperishable food, and water somewhere easily accessible. These will help you keep warm while you wait for help, and if the worst happens, they’ll keep you alive.

Call for Help

The second you experience trouble and have safely parked your car to the side of the road, call assistance. If you are having car trouble, you can contact your roadside assistance company or a family member or friend who is nearby. If you are concerned for your safety or are stranded due to an accident, you should call 911 immediately to describe your situation and location and receive advice on how to proceed.

Don’t Leave Your Car

Unless the situation calls for otherwise, don’t open your doors and stay in your car to keep the warmth in. Depending on how long it takes for help to come, you could experience hypothermia or frostbite if the inside of the car gets cold enough. Turning on your hazard lights will alert anyone passing you that you are in trouble. Getting out of the car will expose you to the freezing temperatures, release any warm air from inside your car, and put you at risk of being hit by a passing car. Your best option is to wait for help.

Clear the Tailpipe

There are some instances in which you may need to leave your car, and one of those would be in the case of heavy snow. If your tailpipe gets covered in snow, carbon monoxide could build up inside your car. Periodically check your tailpipe according to the heaviness of the snowfall and keep it cleared. Just be sure to watch for oncoming traffic, make sure you don’t lock yourself out of your car, and get back inside as soon as possible.

Keep Your Body Moving

With freezing temperatures or icy snow around your car, you can easily experience frostbite or hypothermia, possibly even if you have taken precautions by stashing warm items in your car. If your skin starts to feel tingly, have a burning sensation, or look bluish, you should definitely keep active to keep your blood circulating. Also, avoid falling asleep as fatigue may be a sign of hypothermia and being unconscious for any period of time will put you at risk of other dangers you would have otherwise noticed when awake.

Periodically Run Your Engine

As long as you have gas in your tank, periodically start your car to keep it warm. While it’s on, turn your interior lights on so people will see you and be more likely to stop and help. Otherwise, they may assume the car has been stranded and is empty.

A final tip to remember is to refrain from panicking. As long as you keep your mind clear and remember these basic tips, you should make it out of the situation without any real trouble.