Worst-Case Winter Driving Survival

Winter driving conditions can turn treacherous in an instant. Snow, ice, poor visibility and extreme cold all threaten to disable your vehicle or make roads impassable. Even on a relatively short trip, you can find yourself stranded for several hours. It's important to be prepared for such a situation. Your life could depend on it.

What to have in your vehicle
In addition to the just-in-case items you should always have in your vehicle, such as jumper cables, tire-changing tools, flashlight and a first-aid kit, be sure to carry these winter essentials:

  • Cell phone and charger
  • Blankets
  • High-calorie, non-perishable food
  • Extra clothing (wool socks, gloves, hats)
  • Small can and waterproof matches to melt snow for drinking water
  • Road salt or cat litter to help with traction
  • Camping shovel
  • Ice scraper and brush
  • Tow rope
  • Brightly colored flag or cloth to tie to your antenna

If you are stranded
If a winter storm strands you with your vehicle, stay calm and follow these tips:

  • Pull off the highway (if possible), turn on your hazard lights and hang a distress flag from an antenna or window.
  • If you have a phone, call 911 and describe your location as precisely as possible. Follow any instructions from the dispatcher.
  • Remain in your vehicle so help can find you.
  • Run your vehicle's engine and heater about 10 minutes each hour to keep warm. Open a downwind window slightly for ventilation and clear snow from the exhaust pipe to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Exercise a little to maintain body heat, but avoid overexertion and sweating.
  • Drink fluids to avoid dehydration.
  • Don't waste your vehicle's battery power. Balance electrical energy needs—lights, heat and radio—with supply.
  • At night, turn on an inside light when you run the engine so help can see you.

This article compliments of State Farm Insurance.

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