You can plan, you can prepare, you can do everything possible to make sure your vehicle is in top condition to safely navigate severe weather conditions like blizzards and ice storms. But even after all of that, someday you might find yourself stuck in your vehicle during a snowstorm. What should you do if your vehicle becomes snowbound? We compiled some of the best tips on how to stay safe in this type of emergency situation. Thanks to AAA for some of these great ideas.
- Don’t Panic
First thing’s first. It’s natural to feel scared and panicked and to and have a million thoughts running through your head. Take a breath and assess your situation. Do you have a cell phone? A CB radio? The faster you make contact with another human, the faster you’ll find safety.
2. Keep Warm
Protecting yourself from hypothermia and frostbite should be one of your first priorities. Use anything and everything available to keep warm and insulate your body from the cold. We’re talking newspapers, floor mats, paper maps… anything. Do you have snacks or emergency food in the car? If so, eat them. High-energy foods can help keep your body warm from the inside.
3. Stay With Your Vehicle
This is very, very important. Your car will provide shelter and can make it easier for rescuers to locate you. Never leave your car to look for help during a severe storm. You could lose sight of your car in the blowing snow, and get lost.
4. Don’t Over Do It
If for whatever reason you have to try to push or dig out your car, don’t over exert yourself. The last thing you need when trapped in a snowstorm is a thrown-out back or other injury.
5. Be Seen
If you have a brightly colored cloth, tie it to the antenna of your car. Or, place a cloth at the top of a rolled up window to signal distress. If it’s dark out, keep your dome light on. It only uses a little bit of electricity and will make it easier for rescue workers to find you.
6. Breathe Easily
Make sure the exhaust pipe is clear and not clogged with ice or snow. A blocked exhaust can cause deadly carbon monoxide gas to leak into the car while the engine is running.
7. Conserve Gasoline
Only run the engine and heater long enough to warm up the car a bit. This will help conserve gasoline, and is safer in general. And remember what your dad always told you. During cold winter months, always keep your gas tank at least half full to avoid a frozen gas line.
8. Prepare an Emergency Kit in Advance
This safety tip should probably hold the number one spot on every vehicle safety checklist. It’s important for winter driving, summer driving, and everything in between. You should create an emergency kit for every vehicle you own. This kit should contain: Jumper cables, flashlights with extra batteries, first aid kit, non-perishable food, water, basic toolkit, radio, cat litter or sand (for tire traction), shovel, ice scraper, warm clothes, blankets and a charged cell phone and/or car charger. Making a vehicle emergency kit might only take an hour, and you will be SO happy you have it when an emergency situation arises.
Of course, the best way to avoid becoming snowbound in your car is to avoid driving during severe weather. If you absolutely have to drive, be sure to let others know your route and estimated time of arrival so they can help if something doesn’t seem right. You should also make sure your vehicle has winter tires, if it needs them, for extra stability and control in ice and snow.
Make sure your car is ready for winter conditions by scheduling an appointment at your local Sears Auto Center. You also might want to consider a DieHard 360° Vehicle Assessment to make sure your car is as safe as possible. And remember, drive slowly on those winter roads! We put your life in drive.™