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in: Cars, Featured, Manly Skills, Survival, Visual Guides

December 19, 2019 Last updated: January 8, 2020

What to Do When Your Car Is Stranded In the Snow

Winter is here, which means plenty of travel for the holidays and lots of adventures through snowy environments and mountain passes. Before you head out to more rural and remote areas this season, take some time to stock your vehicle with tire chains, a portable shovel, flashlight, lighter/matches, extra clothes, blankets, kitty litter (for traction), water, and food. Carry this kit with you throughout the winter, even if you don’t think you’ll be encountering snow. Mountain weather conditions can change quickly, and cell phone reception is never as reliable in alpine environments. 

Before your trip, you should make sure to notify a friend or family member as to where you’re going, when you’re leaving, and your expected arrival time. Also fill up the car with gas — the extra fuel might mean the difference between freezing and staying warm if you get stranded.

If you do find yourself stuck in the snow, you can use the shovel, tire chains, and litter, as well as your car jack to try and get your vehicle unstuck and turned around. If getting out of the snow is impossible, you’ll need to survive until help arrives. Leaving your car is rarely a good idea in snowy conditions because of the risk of getting lost and suffering hypothermia. It’s typically better to hunker down until you’re rescued. Here’s what to do until you are. 

1: Put on all the clothes you have available in order to trap and conserve body heat.

2: Turn the car’s heater on intermittently for about 10 minutes once an hour, to gain warmth while preserving fuel.

3:Make  the car more visible by clearing snow from the hood and tying something colorful to the antenna

4: Pile snow around the car to help insulate it.

5: Periodically move around inside the car to keep blood flowing and stay warm.

6: Build a signal fire on top of your spare tire with paper and wood until the tire itself ignites to make a thick column of black smoke.

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Illustrated by Ted Slampyak

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