Winter is here, so we asked some of our resident experts for their top safety tips.
And here’s the result! It really boils down to “be prepared”, but here’s what you can do to make life easier if your vehicle breaks down or you become lost or stranded in the snow.
Of course, if this happens on a main highway, you’ll probably be found pretty quickly by our maintenance contractor or other passersby. But if you’re driving on the road less travelled this winter, read on.
Hope for the Best, Plan for the Worst
Before setting out, let others know about your travel plans. Make sure they know where and when you plan to go and stick to your plan. If anything does go wrong, they’ll be able to provide authorities with vital information to help find you.
The vast majority of people who get lost or stranded are rescued within 72 hours, so pack an emergency kit and enough supplies to last that long. We talked about what you can include in that kit in a previous post, but we’ve got some additional tips for you here, too.
Time to Prioritize
The most important thing to do if you find yourself stuck in your car in the cold is to stay inside your vehicle and keep heated and hydrated, so water and extra blankets and clothes are essential. Keep the water up front with you where it’s warmer and less likely to freeze. Another thing to include in the “most important” category is extra prescription medication, if you need it. Being stranded is a terrible time for a medical emergency
Being able to signal for help is possibly the next most critical thing. If you’re lost in the snow, you might be hard for searchers to see, so make sure you’ve got something to make yourself easily visible. You can use your headlights and horn for this, but those rely on your car’s battery, so you should pack alternatives, like flares and flashlights.
Food actually falls lower on the list of necessities. It’s nice to have, but if you’re warm and hydrated, you can live without food for several days. If you do include it in your kit, make sure it’s non-perishable, high in calories and something you enjoy eating anyway. Keep it in your car for a few weeks, then eat it and replace it with new stock to make sure it stays fresh.
If you have a cell phone, bring it and extra batteries. You could even get an adapter so you can charge your phone with your car. But don’t rely solely on your phone, because you might not be able to use it, as there are a lot of areas with no cell phone reception.
You’re Stuck. Now What?
If you’re stuck in your car in the cold, your best chance for survival is to stay inside it. Run your car for 10 minutes each hour to keep warm. But remember, if you do this in a snow storm, make sure you’re keeping your exhaust pipe clear! If you don’t dangerous levels of carbon monoxide could build up in the car. Carrying a small, collapsible shovel can make this task a lot easier.
Keeping Up Morale
Don’t forget to pack a game or a book or two, especially if you have kids. Being stuck in your car for hours on end can be a trying time, and keeping yourself occupied can go a long way to boost morale.
Putting it all Together
If you haven’t prepared your emergency kit yet, now might be a good time to start. Having one is like wearing your seat belt. Hopefully you’ll never need, but if you do, it could be a life saver.