Ski season also means blizzard season. That’s great news for the slopes but not so good if, in the unlikely event, you get trapped in your car during a snowstorm. Do you call for help right away? Do you get out of the car? What supplies should you have just in case?
All good questions, so stay calm and take a look at these 7 tips from a retired Navy Seal to survive a blizzard trapped in your car.
Tip #1: Clear Your Pipe. If your car is stuck in the snow, make sure the exhaust pipe is clear otherwise you could get a backup of dangerous carbon monoxide gas flowing into your car.
Tip #2: Be Seen. Are you on the road…or off? Make yourself visible by putting up roadside flares in front of and behind your vehicle — especially if you’re located on a curve. Call 911 as soon as possible.
Tip #3: Dig Out. Once you’ve assessed your situation and it’s safe, shovel out a trench in front of your tires. Then put down sand or kitty litter to increase traction to get back on the road, if possible.
Tip #4: Drink Water. In an emergency situation, potable water can be retrieved from snow by melting it on your dashboard in a container, so pack a water container or metal jug in your kit to collect snow. Ideally, keep about three gallons per person per day. That’s the general rule, but it’s a lot of water to carry.
Tip #5: Stay Put. Should you stay or should you go? The golden rule is to stay in your stranded vehicle unless you’re in sight of a building. In that case, seek alternative shelter. The difficulty comes if you’re in a white-out blizzard because leaving your car could leave you disoriented. The car is often the safest place.
Tip #6: Stay Charged & Hydrated. While your car is on, charge your phone and put a container of snow on the dashboard to melt snow for water to drink.
Tip #7: Stay Warm. If you’re going to be inside your vehicle for a long period of time, warmth is key. Run your car for 10 minutes every hour after making sure the exhaust is clear. To keep your blood circulation up and your body temperature with it, do some workouts and keep moving. Get in the back seat so you can stretch your legs. Keep the blood flowing. While your car is on, you can charge your phone and put a container of snow on the dashboard to melt for water.
These 7 tips are important, but so is prevention. Here are 4 bonus preparation tips to survive a blizzard.
Advanced Tip #1: Emergency Kit. Travel with an emergency kit equipped for a snow-in situation. The top 20 things to include are:
- Warm clothing: thick jacket, neck gaiter, hat, socks, gloves, and winter boots
- Extra items for warmth: blanket, fleece
- Heating or lighting tools: flashlight, a large candle, grill lighter
- Snow removal tools: ice scraper, foldable shovel, kitty litter
- Emergency kit items: Road flares, whistle, duct tape, jumper cables, first aid kit
- Food (a few granola bars), water and a metal can for melting snow/collecting water
Advanced Tip #2: Fuel Up. Keep your fuel tank at three-quarters full. The gas adds weight to your car, which keeps the vehicle centered on the road while allowing for better handling in icy situations. Also, the fuller your tank the longer you can run your engine for warmth if your car is stuck.
Advanced Tip #3: Maintain Your Vehicle. Regular maintenance and recommended oil changes are important. Make sure you have good snow tires and extra windshield washer fluid.
Advanced Tip #4: Extra Weight. Keep a heavy bag of sand or a kitty litter in the trunk. The added weight increases your stopping ability.
Final tip: Don’t drive in winter storms if possible. It seems obvious but the best thing you can do to avoid getting stuck in a blizzard is to not drive during one.