There are few things as scary as being helplessly stranded in your car on the side of the road during winter. What can be just a few moments of being stuck can quickly turn into a survival situation if you find yourself in the middle of nowhere.
Being stranded at night in the dead of winter can turn ugly fast. We all hope that we would be able to call for help, but if your cellphone is dead or out of service range you could be in trouble. But with a little preparation, you can make it through with a little preparation.
Winter Car Supplies List
Here we have a list of things that you can have in your car so you can be ready just in case:
- Cellphone – Always have it fully charged. It can be a lifesaver when used to call for emergency help, but even if you’re out of range, rescuers can use past signals to narrow down where you’re lost.
- Coat, hat, gloves – It may seem obvious, but how often do you just not bother if you’re going on a short drive to a convenient location? So, what if you’re in a wreck or your car stalls? And, after this year, we know that a short drive can turn into a multiple hours traffic jam where you might have to cut the engine or even walk a short way for shelter in a store or office building.
- Blanket – If you don’t have room for one, consider a space blanket or three, which you can get in outdoor-supplies stores. They’re made of a thin coat of aluminum on plastic and are cheap and very light. They help conserve heat radiated from your body and are best used under your coat or a blanket. But even if you don’t have either, they’ll still help a little.
- Food – Store protein bars or other nonperishable snacks, and rotate every few months. Calories produce energy for metabolism, and metabolism produces heat.
- Bottled water – It might freeze, so be sure the bottle has a little empty space for the ice to expand without bursting the container. You could also keep it in your car’s interior rather than the trunk. This might keep it warmer, at least while you’re driving.
- Light Source. Keep matches, candles, and lighters in a small pouch in the car somewhere. Also, if the water freezes, you could warm it up in the tin or melt snow for water. You are also going to want a durable flashlight just in case you are standed at night.
- Battery-booster cables – If your battery dies, these could help if there is someone else around that is able to give you a boost.
- Tire chains – Chains are super helpful if you are in the back country or if you find yourself in super icy conditions.
- Flares – This can be a lifesaver if you think there is civilization around but you can’t tell in what direction it is or if there is already a search party headed out to find you. Flares will draw attention and are always a signal for help.
- Small shovel – This can be worth its weight in gold if your car is stuck in a snow bank and you can’t get out.
- First-aid kit – You might be able to find one at a drugstore, or put one together yourself with items such as bandages, gauze, scissors, antiseptic wipes, and over-the-counter medications.
These are just some of the things you should consider having in your car during winter. By being prepared, you can minimize the risk of being stranded and ensure that you will be able to survive until help arrives.
What to do if you are stranded?
One of the most important things to have in your car during winter is the right supplies. It’s also important to make sure that your car is properly prepared for winter weather conditions. Make sure your tires are properly inflated, your windshield wipers are functioning properly, and your gas tank is full.
What you should do will depend a lot on the circumstances. If it’s a blizzard out, how cold it is outside, if you are in a remote area, whether or not you are by yourself, if there is civilization nearby, if you have any supplies with you all will determine your next move. Perhaps one of the most important things that you can do is stay clam. Without maintaining some level of rationality you will not make the right decisions need to get out.
So it’s really impossible to say exactly what you should do, as every situation warrants a different response depending on the position you are in.
However, here are some basic guidelines if you do find yourself stranded in your car this winter:
- Call for help: As soon as you realize you are stranded, call for help. Dial 911 if you are in an emergency situation or call a tow truck to come and assist you. That might not be possible depending on where you are and the cell phone signal range. In that case, go to point #2.
- Stay in your car: It may be tempting to try and walk to safety, but it is important to stay in your vehicle. Your car will provide you with shelter from the cold and will make it easier for rescuers to find you (assuming they know you are missing). Now, this is where you need to use a little judgment. If you see a house and it’s not a blizzard out, you probably will want to go check it out. If it’s freezing outside, and you have the heater going, and it’s night, it’s probably better to stay inside the car, which means moving on to point
- Run your engine: If you do need to run your engine to keep warm, make sure that you crack open a window to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Check how much gasoline you have, and if you are running on empty then start the car and run the heater for some time and then turn it off. Doing it in spurts will save some juice until morning or help arrives. If you do not have any gas in the car then move on to the last step.
- Keep moving: Stay warm. To stay warm, it is important to keep your body moving. Try doing some simple exercises like clapping your hands or tapping your feet. You will lose circulation in your extremities first, so try and keep them moving to try and get blood flow back to those areas. Frostbite and hypothermia are real especially if you are stranded at night and have no heater.
It is important to be prepared for winter weather conditions and know what to do if you are stranded. By having the right supplies in your car and knowing basic guidelines, you can increase your chances of survival until help arrives.