How to Survive Being Stranded in Your Car During a Snowstorm
Although an unlikely and rare situation, being stranded in your car during a snowstorm can happen to you if you live in an area with heavy snowfall and cold winters. The majority of incidents are resolved quickly by simply calling for help. But sometimes you might be out of cellphone reception, or don't know your exact location. Either way, here's a simple guide to keep you alive in case you get stuck in a blizzard.
The first thing you should do is be prepared for winter travel. Having a box with some kitty litter, a shovel, some tea candles and flares as well as a blanket and first aid kit is the easiest way to prepare yourself for emergencies.
The second most important way of preventing a dangerous situation is to simply avoid long trips or driving at all if you live in a rural area. In the event that you are stuck on the road in a snowdrift or drove off the road onto the shoulder and into a ditch you can try and use the shovel to dig the car out and then use the kitty litter to provide traction for your tires. Don't attempt to pull yourself out by simply applying gas, as this will only make your car fall deeper into the snow.
If you are unable to get your car moving, you should try calling for help and if you have a GPS unit, provide your exact location. If you are unable to call for help and are not sure of where you are, be prepared to wait out the storm. Under no circumstance should you try to leave the car to walk somewhere unless you are within eyesight of an inhabited area. Whiteout conditions make it very confusing to judge distance and direction. Chances are that if the storm is heavy enough, you will not be able to return to your car.
The car is the safest place for you to be as long as you are not on ice or in an area prone to avalanches. If you are stuck on the road, light a flare to identify your car's position. Make sure that you keep watch and be prepared to sound your horn if you see another vehicle approaching you.
While in the car, turn off your engine as Carbon Monoxide can build up around you and eventually kill you. Lighting a tea candle on the dashboard, closing the air vents and cracking open a window just a little bit will provide you with a surprising amount of warmth. You want to make sure you are cycling fresh air through the car as Carbon Dioxide can also be fatal, although in larger amounts that Carbon Monoxide.
You should stay in the car until the conditions improve or you see another vehicle. Make sure to keep yourself warm and hydrated. If you don't have drinking water with you in the car, you can always eat fresh snow. Let it melt in your mouth first before swallowing it as this will keep you warmer.
Keep an eye out to make sure your flare is lit and snow isn't covering the slightly open window.
Following these simple rules gives you the best chances of surviving.
Once again, under no circumstances, unless within visible, close distance to a house or car should you try to walk anywhere. Most people do not drive in their cars wearing insulated and waterproof winter clothing. Wait until the weather has cleared up to a point where you can asses your location and situation. Most roads will eventually be travelled along and you can ask for help.