During a snowstorm, it is possible that you will be in the ditch or stuck on the road. You might hit an icy patch and slide into the ditch. You might hit a drift in the road and become stuck. You might have had some confidence you could make it home, but the snow is too high and you are stranded on the road.
You could be leaving work and hear that the roads will be closed at 5:00 p.m. The snow is piling up and you are already hearing the roads are bad. The wind started blowing and the snow is sticking to the roads now. The roads are slick and snow plows are trying to keep up, but the snow is coming down too fast. The road departments are going to pull the plows off the road pretty soon.
You decide to try to get home. You have surely driven in worse weather before. You know you need to go slow and watch out for the other drivers. You get a few miles out of town and notice some cars in the ditch. You think they must have been going too fast. You keep the speed down, but you are starting to have problems seeing the road. All of a sudden, you slide around on the road and start spinning in circles. You find yourself in the ditch very quickly.
Now what do you do?
1. Call for help. You should always make sure your cell phone is charged and this is one of the reasons why. If your insurance has roadside assistance, call them and see if you can be towed. You can call 911. You can call your favorite tow truck company. You can do a Google search quickly for local towing companies. You can turn on your location setting for your phone to find the closest towing companies and any other help you might need.
2. Call a family member or friend. You should let someone know you are in the ditch. When you are going somewhere in the winter with potential snow and ice forecasted, you should always let someone know where you are going and when you should be expected or at home. If you end up in the ditch or stuck on the road, please let someone know. They may worry about you, but someone will know that you are still alive and awaiting help.
3. Keep an eye on the gas tank. This is winter and your gas tank should always be above half full, but sometimes that doesn't happen. You should make sure you have enough gas to keep the car running and stay warm.
4. Run the car at intervals to stay warm. You should run the car at 15 minute intervals to stay warm. Always crack a window when running the car to avoid any carbon monoxide poisoning due to a plugged or blocked exhaust on the car.
5. Do not leave the car unless help has arrived or is just across the road. Do not try to get help on your own unless you are very close (within 200 feet) to a house or farm place. You can easily get stranded in the snow if the snow is too high or you are on unfamiliar ground, risking hypothermia and frostbite. If you are in danger, use your best common sense. Leaving the car could put you at risk also.
6. Use your hazard lights on your car to signal for help. You should keep some roadside flares in your car to signal for help also.
7. Do not use your cell phone more than you need to. Unless you can keep charging your phone in your car without wearing down your battery or carry a portable charger, keep the phone use limited. You want to be able to keep in touch with loved ones and help. Keep some word search puzzle books and reading material in the car with you to keep you entertained and off your phone.
8. Stay warm. Do what you can to stay warm while waiting for help. Use a blanket, keep a hat on your head, gloves on your hands, and use hand warmers and foot warmers to stay warm. Run the heat on the car for 15 minutes on/15 minutes off to stay warm. Keep boots in the vehicle if you are not already wearing them to keep your feet warmer.
9. Keep hydrated. When you leave home, you should have a full water bottle with you. Keep sipping on the water and stay hydrated. Being dehydrated can lead to bad decision making, health issues, and other problems which you can not afford to have in a situation like this.
10. While you may only be stranded for 1-2 hours, plan on being stranded for longer. Tow bans can and do occur when the weather is bad enough and travel is not advised. If you are traveling and know the roads are closed, find a place to stay in town or stay at home/work. If you are traveling on closed roads, they will not come for you until the next morning or at their convenience. You could be stranded for several hours even with no tow bans. If you do decide to travel in bad weather, fill your tank with gas, buy some bottles of water, and grab some snacks. You may need them further on down the road.
11. Use your vehicle emergency kit if you need to. You may need all those things or you may not need anything, but please use it.
12. Stay aware and be ready to defend yourself. While most people are well-meaning and want to help you, there are people who just like to prey on the helpless. While you are in a situation needing help, you are not helpless. Be ready to defend yourself against those who would do you harm and be weary of anyone you do not know. Your life could depend on it.
13. Do not try to dig yourself out or get yourself out of the ditch. Even with 4x4 or all-wheel drive, you may end up getting yourself even more stuck. Snow is pretty soft and you can sink in the ditch pretty far trying to get yourself out. If you get stuck on a drift, you may be able to back off of it. However, most people are "hung up" on the drift because they lack the tire traction to get back off the drift. If you are stuck in snow too high, you will need to wait for the snow plow to go by and still might need a tow truck to pull you out. Either way, wait for help and have them help you get out instead of getting more stuck.
These are the main things you need to do to survive being stranded in your vehicle during a storm. Your top priorities to stay alive are to stay safe, warm, dry, and hydrated. You don't know how long you will be stranded and you need to be ready for anything. As always, use your best judgment and common sense to stay alive!
Thanks for reading,