How to Survive Getting Stuck in a Blizzard
Winter weather is unpredictable, and a seemingly easy drive can quickly turn dangerous during a blizzard.
Make sure you're prepared to weather the storm by learning about emergency preparedness and stocking your car with certain survival essentials. That way, if you get stuck on the wrong side of a highway closure due to an avalanche or accident, or if you get stranded in the snow, you'll be prepared.
Evaluate road conditions before driving
The easiest way to avoid getting trapped in your car during a snowstorm is to check weather conditions and plan ahead. If the conditions are iffy, think carefully about how important the trip is — can your departure wait until the weather clears?
If you absolutely must drive, you need to be well-versed on the do’s and don'ts of driving during winter weather:
- Prepare your vehicle for winter conditions,
- Bring an emergency kit with the right provisions, and;
- Make sure you understand how to drive safely on snowy and icy roads.
If you get stranded in your car during a snowstorm, follow these precautions
Even if you’ve checked the weather forecast, an unexpected winter storm can still leave you stranded. Here’s what to do:
- Don’t panic. Take a few deep breaths to calm yourself down before doing anything else.
- Stay with your vehicle. If you can’t continue the drive, stay where you are — your car is an excellent shelter! The exception to this rule is if you know there’s shelter nearby.
- If you have cell phone service, call for help. Ideally, you’ll have coverage and will be able to call for help. But even if you don’t, the first rule still applies: Don’t panic.
- Increase the visibility of your car. There are a ton of ways to make your vehicle more visible, which increases the chance you’ll be seen and helped by passersby. You can use road flares if you have them or secure a colorful piece of fabric to your antenna (like a scarf, jacket or another piece of clothing you aren’t using to stay warm.)
- Clear the exhaust pipe frequently. If it gets clogged up with snow, you run the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Run your engine, but pay attention to the fuel gauge. Running the engine helps keep you warm and ensures your battery doesn't die. But don't use too much fuel too quickly. Starting your car for approximately ten minutes every hour is a good rule of thumb.
- Bundle up and stay warm. If you have any extra insulating materials in your car, you can also use them to cover up the windows — this traps more heat in your vehicle. Another great way to stay warm is getting out of the car to do jumping jacks and other exercises, which will quickly help you generate more body heat.
Once the storm passes, tune in to a local radio station to make sure it’s safe to venture out again.