Stranded: How to Survive a Blizzard in Your Car

Blizzards can come out of nowhere, leaving you in treacherous conditions, potentially miles from home. You may not be able to predict when the blizzard hits, but you can take a few extra steps to make sure you’re prepared to deal with any situation when the flakes start to fall. Check the weather reports, batten down the hatches, and get ready to travel – safely.

Winterize your car.

Always check your fluid levels before any trip in the snow. Antifreeze that’s properly rated is essential for cold weather driving. And a full tank of washer fluid can help you deal with snow thrown onto your windshield by passing traffic. It’s also important to top off your fuel regularly. The extra fuel can give you extra hours of warmth or give you the extra mileage you need to take the long way around a storm.

Stock up on the essentials.

For starters, make sure you have a good first aid kit, an ice scraper, a snow shovel and basic repair kit that includes jumper cables. You’d be surprised how many problems you can solve when you have a few tools. Have a phone charger handy and make sure you keep your communications open whenever possible. Have a flashlight for nighttime journeys, and pack an extra coat, gloves and hat in the trunk just in case. You might also want to consider having some food or water stashed away if you find yourself needing to spend some unexpected time in your car to weather the storm. To be extra prepared, think ahead and pack snow chains for your tires (and know how to install them!), a small bag of kitty litter to provide some extra grip on ice, or a pair of boots in case you have to get out and push or walk any distance through the snow.

Now that you’re fully equipped, what do you do when you’re stuck?

The first step is assessing the situation. Find out where you are and what’s close by. Then figure out if you’re in the way of other cars. If so, you need to move away from the vehicle and the road and search for shelter elsewhere to avoid injury from a crash. If you’re safely out of the way of traffic, stay in your car, it makes good shelter, even with no gas. Use your phone to call for help and try to give clear directions and landmarks so your rescuer can find you. If you have extra fuel, make sure the exhaust pipe is clear to avoid carbon monoxide building up, and use fuel sparingly, just to keep the car warm.

If possible, don’t travel when the weather looks bad. But if you have to, the main things are to be prepared and don’t panic. Using these guidelines, think through your travel plans, understand the risks and thoroughly think through your situation before you take any drastic actions.


*The content on this website is for informational purposes only and is not medical advice. Please consult a physician regarding your specific medical condition, diagnosis and/or treatment.

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