Tips for Stranded Vehicles

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:

  • Stay in Your Vehicle:
    • Move anything you need from the trunk into the passenger area.
    • Don't stay outside; you will become quickly disoriented in wind-driven snow and cold.
    • 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.
  • Be Visible to Rescuers:
    • Tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna as a signal to rescuers.
    • After snow stops falling, raise the hood of the car to indicate you need help.
    • Turn on the dome light at night when running the engine.
  • Stay Warm and Move Around:
    • Stay awake. You will be less vulnerable to cold-related health problems.
    • As you sit, keep moving your arms and legs to improve your circulation and stay warmer.
    • Wrap your entire body, including your head, in extra clothing, blankets, or newspapers.
    • Do not eat unmelted snow - it will lower your body temperature.
    • Huddle with other people for warmth.

(Sources: Center for Disease Control, NOAA)