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What to do if Your Car is Disabled During a Winter Storm

What to Do if You Get Stranded

Staying in your vehicle when stranded is often the safest choice if winter storms create poor visibility or if roadways are ice covered. These steps will increase your safety when stranded:

  • Tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna as a signal to rescuers and raise the hood of the car (if it is not snowing).
  • Move anything you need from the trunk into the passenger area.
  • Wrap your entire body, including your head, in extra clothing, blankets, or newspapers.
  • Stay awake. You will be less vulnerable to cold-related health problems.
  • Run the motor (and heater) for about 10 minutes per hour, opening one window slightly to let in air. Make sure that snow is not blocking the exhaust pipe-this will reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • As you sit, keep moving your arms and legs to improve your circulation and stay warmer.
  • Do not eat unmelted snow because it will lower your body temperature.
  • Huddle with other people for warmth.

Winter Survival Kit for Your Car

Equip your car with these items:

  • blankets
  • first aid kit
  • a can and waterproof matches (to melt snow for water)
  • windshield scraper
  • booster cables
  • road maps
  • mobile phone
  • compass
  • tool kit
  • paper towels
  • bag of sand or cat litter (to pour on ice or snow for added traction)
  • tow rope
  • tire chains (in areas with heavy snow)
  • collapsible shovel
  • container of water and high-calorie canned or dried foods and a can opener
  • flashlight and extra batteries
  • canned compressed air with sealant (for emergency tire repair)
  • brightly colored cloth

Source:  Centers for Disease Control

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