In the age of technology and roadside service, we often don’t consider the idea of being stranded along the roadside. Our cars have never been more reliable. Many come with a safety net service like OnStar, who will send immediate help. Unfortunately, people often do find themselves stranded in their vehicle during the winter for many reasons. Winter weather has a knack for closing roadways and stopping and entire region in its tracks. Calling for help only works if help can actually reach you. If you do find yourself stranded this winter, a properly packed survival kit may just save your life. Its important to remember that hypothermia can kill you even when the temperatures are above freezing.
Techniques to survive a night in the car
- DO NOT LEAVE THE CAR. Unless you are within sight of shelter (i.e. hotel, Walmart, a good Samaritan’s house), do not leave the car. Your car is shelter, and shelter is life. If you have a cell phone, or OnStar call for help, and patiently wait for them to arrive. Walking alongside an icy road will put you in the path of other vehicles sliding out of control.
- Create a signal for others to see. Place a bright flag (bandana, sock, etc.) on your radio antennae to alert emergency vehicle’s of your presence. A flag indicates that your car is not abandoned, and that you need assistance. Avoid honking your horn when the engine is off so not to drain your battery.
- Conserve gasoline by running the engine for only 15 min every hour, just enough to maintain warmth in the cabin. Be sure to clear the exhaust pipe of any snow before starting the engine. An obstructed exhaust pipe can cause CO2 poisoning or suffocation inside the car.
- Bundle up. Remove wet clothing and put on every piece of dry clothing as possible, covering every part of your body. Cut head holes in trash bags to use as a outer shell for added insulation.
- Stay Calm and patient. You will likely wait until the storm has passed before rescue attempts will be made. Keep a close eye on children and elderly, as they are more susceptible to cold temperatures.
- Eat high calorie, high sugary foods to provide a quick source of energy for your body to convert to warmth. Do not forget to drink water to stay hydrated; however, wait until the water is room temperature. Cold water can help drop your internal body temperature.
Here’s a list of common items we should all keep in our trunk during winter time