How to Survive a Snow Storm in your Car

How to Survive a Snow Storm in your Car
As winter hits in full force, driving becomes even more dangerous. The roads are icy and slippery. Add in a late-night storm, and suddenly a simple accident now becomes a high-risk situation. If you're stranded, far from help, you're suddenly in a life-threatening situation. And that's not good. But making it through the night isn't all that hard. You've just got to follow a few simple rules.

Be willing to stay put

The first thing that people think to do is go for help, and whilst not always the best idea, if you're right close to civilization, it could be your best bet. Just make sure you're not going to have to hike more than 10 or 15 minutes in the storm, and you've got a good idea of where you're headed. Oh, and you've got the right gear to deal with the sub-zero temperatures, freezing wind, and rain. Get stuck outside, and exposure will kill you fast if you're not 100% sure of where you're going. In most cases, staying with your car is the smartest option. Plus, emergency services will usually find your car first, so staying put gives you the best chance of being rescued.

Find a way to get noticed

There's two reasons for this. It gives you something to do to stave off the boredom, and it makes it easy for other drivers (or emergency services) to actually notice you if they happen to drive down the same road. I'd set your hazards going at a minimum, and if you've got anything in your car that's bright, or reflective, take it out and hang it from the trees or any structures nearby. Depending on the weather, I'd also consider getting a fire going. The flames are a great way to stay warm, and can usually be seen from quite a distance. Just don't waste your car's battery with the headlights on. It'll drain fast if you've not got the engine running.

Don't freak out

This is easier than it sounds, but you need to be prepared for the fact you may be spending the next few hours, or even the next couple of days, riding out the storm. Especially if you're in a particularly isolated area. Coming to terms with this will ensure you're able to stay calm. Perhaps there's other people stuck like you and you can make friends, or you can start on a plan to free yourself. Like taking a shovel and slowly starting to dig your car free. For me, staving off boredom is the hardest part of staying put, so I've always got a couple of novels tucked in my glove compartment, which I can simply settle down with and start reading.

Running your car is ok

When it's snowy out I try to keep my gas tank as full as possible. That way, I've got plenty of fuel if I do find myself stuck and I want to run my car to get the heater going, and to give my phone a little bit of a charge. Just make sure that you've cleared an area around your exhaust pipe first. Otherwise you risk breathing the carbon monoxide fumes your car emits. And that's not good. Breathe this, and you'll drift off to sleep, and eventually die. Let me say this again. Running your car is fine, so long as you've taken a shovel and dug out your exhaust pipe. If it's covered with snow, you're risking your life each time you start the engine.

Have an emergency kit

It won't help you if you never got around to packing one, but during winter I've got two plastic tubs that basically live in the trunk of my car. The first contains blankets, gloves, a thick jacket and pants, and a spare pair of boots. A couple of maps and a compass. And a small bug-out bag with a little food, fire-starting gear, flashlight and so on. Basically, everything I need to gear up and manage a decent trek in sub-zero conditions. I have this as I live fairly remote, and I'd rather be protected and trekking home than sitting in my car for days on end. The second tub contains my hunker down kit. If I'm unsure which route to take home, or the conditions are too extreme to make the trek, this will ensure I don't go hungry. There's a week's worth of MREs, water filters, and even a small cooking stove and some fuel to keep me fed, warm, and cozy while I ride out the storm. Plus, my tent. Oh, and I've also got a bunch of flares, and some "emergency-style" police tape that I can use to get attention. It's a little overkill, and these two take up about 70 percent of my trunk-space, but it all came to good use last year when I slid into a ditch and had to wait almost 7 hours for my wife to turn up with the tractor to come get me unstuck. I simply settled in and rode out the storm. Getting your car stuck in a snowstorm can be a frightening experience. Just fight your instinct to run for help. You're going to be much better off hunkering down, staying with your car, and finding a way to get help to come to you. Your survival depends on your ability to think logically. But having a little foresight to pack the right gear will make it all that more comfortable to ride out the storm. And that's how you survive.

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