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Winter Survival Tips: When You’re Stranded in Your Car

winter survival tips: stranded in snowWe’ve had a mild and warm fall in Northern Colorado this year, but winter is just around the corner. You can bet we’ll get our normal allocation of snow and cold weather. When the ice, snow, and blizzards arrive, make sure you’re prepared to brave the elements without fear with our winter survival tips.

It helps to have all-wheel drive on your vehicle, but even the toughest, most powerful vehicles can still get stuck in the snow and ice of winter now and then. To avoid a dangerous situation on the road, make sure that you have all the essential survival items with you in your car if you frequently drive in the cold weather we’re all expecting in Greeley and Northern Colorado.

What Should You Put In A Winter Survival Kit?

You can complete the first step to keeping yourself warm in the event of getting stranded in dangerous temperatures and weather conditions long before you start your car.

Keep a bag of winter survival essentials in your car. Your bag should be tailored to the weather elements you’ll likely be facing. In the Greeley area in winter, that means snow and low temperatures.

Here’s a list of items your cold-weather survival bag should contain:

  • Sleeping bag—rated for temperatures in the teens or lower
  • Extra warm clothes—hat, gloves, base layer, wool or fleece sweater, wool or synthetic socks, jacket or coat
  • Food—don’t count on warming it (you can include snack foods like protein/energy bars)
  • Water—or a metal container you can use to melt snow
  • Candles
  • Matches
  • Boots
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Flares or some kind of signal light
  • Cell phone adapter that you can plug into the lighter outlet
  • Shovel
  • Jumper cables

Keeping these items in your car in the event of getting stranded on the road can save your life.

What to do When You’re Stranded

Now that you have your survival kit, you’re better equipped to handle dangerous wintery conditions on the road. Still, even the most prepared can be in danger on icy and snowy roads. You’ll need to take these steps to give yourself the best chance of being rescued and surviving the night if you need to.

You’re in impassable snow, or your engine won’t start, or for some other reason, you’re on the side of the road in a blizzard.

What do you do now?

The first step is to get out and check your tailpipe. This is why you packed warm winter clothes and boots. Clear your tailpipe of snow so that you don’t risk carbon monoxide poisoning. If you can’t see any buildings or other cars nearby, stay in your car where you can control the warmth.

stranded in snowGet your car warmed up as best you can, then turn the car off. Your car is surprisingly adept at keeping warm air inside it. Turn it on again when you get cold to conserve gas. Periodically check your tailpipe when you’re running your engine. If you can, do small, short, spurts to stay warm.

One vastly underrated way to stay warm and maintain a healthy body temperature is to drink water. Either melt snow from outside (unless it’s obviously dirty, it’s fine to drink melted snow in a pinch), or drink the water supply you packed.

If you’re just off the side of the road, keep your seatbelt on. Other cars can still spin out and hit you, especially in dangerous driving conditions. Put your hazard lights on as well.

Your hazard lights will help people see your car. Put out road flares or other signal lights to alert other drivers and potential rescuers of where you are.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is to be prepared and not to panic. When you get stressed, anxious, and panicky, you’re much more prone to make mistakes and poor decisions. You should always take care of your immediate needs before you try to go anywhere for help. Get yourself warm, hydrated, and as well fed as you can before you make the journey down the road. Walking on a cold, slippery road at night in a snowstorm is dangerous, so make sure that you don’t have far to go before you set out. Usually, the best option is to stay put and wait for help, especially if you have your survival kit ready in your back seat.

If your engine has been giving you trouble, take it to Autotailor to get it ready for cold weather. Good luck out there!

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