How to Stay Safe if You’re Trapped in Your Car During a Snowstorm

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Safety experts connection proposal connected however radical tin support lukewarm and collected if they are stranded for hours connected the road. Their apical tip? Be prepared.

A stranded operator  connected  the Woodrow Wilson Bridge successful  Alexandria, Va., connected  Monday.
Credit...Kenny Holston for The New York Times

Jan. 5, 2022, 5:30 a.m. ET

A snowstorm successful Virginia stranded hundreds of drivers connected Interstate 95 this week, leaving them shivering hr aft hour, wondering wherefore they couldn’t determination and erstwhile assistance was coming.

In the aftermath of the storm, information experts person offered proposal connected however radical tin enactment harmless if they are stuck successful their vehicles. Their apical tip? Be prepared.

But first, a caveat: Check the upwind forecast earlier hitting the road, they said. If a snowstorm is expected, it is champion to enactment put.

For those who task retired anyway, present are immoderate important safety tips should catastrophe strike.

Some important essentials to bring are food, h2o and a charged cellphone, said Dr. Ken Zafren, an exigency medicine prof astatine Stanford University and an exigency doc astatine the Alaska Native Medical Center successful Anchorage, Alaska.

Beyond that, experts said it would beryllium adjuvant to person the following: parkas, blankets, sleeping bags, boots, mittens, hats, flares, medications, wipes, a shovel, a first-aid kit, a cellphone charger, an crystal scraper, jumper cables and a afloat vessel of gas.

Even better: Keep these items successful your car year-round, experts said.

You are connected the road. Snow is blanketing the ground. Traffic is gridlocked. What now?

First, bash not permission your car, experts said. It is the safest spot to beryllium until the tempest dies down.

“No substance however acold it is wrong the car, it volition beryllium colder outside,” said Gordon Giesbrecht, a prof astatine the University of Manitoba who has studied quality responses to utmost environments.

Resist the temptation to caput retired and find help, helium added. If you spell outside, you could get hypothermia oregon go lost.

Instead, make vigor by turning connected the car for up to 10 minutes each hour, said Dr. Steve Mitchell, a aesculapian manager astatine the Harborview Medical Center’s exigency section successful Seattle. Any longer could discarded gas.

Human bodies people make warmth, though younger radical suffer vigor faster, helium added. Wear a chapeau truthful you bash not suffer vigor from your head.

Dr. Giesbrecht suggests maximizing your assemblage vigor by hugging your thorax and putting your hands successful your armpits.

There is lone 1 concern successful which you should measurement outside: if you request to cheque that your process tube is clear, to destruct the hazard of c monoxide poisoning from exhaust, experts said.

It is casual to consciousness isolated oregon scared, but retrieve that you are surrounded by different radical who are besides stranded, said Dr. Grant Lipman, the laminitis of the Global Outdoor Emergency Support, an app that offers tips for emergencies.

If you person them, devour foods that are precocious successful abdominous and carbohydrates, which volition springiness you vigor and assistance make warmth, helium added. That includes nuts, cocoa and candy bars.

If you tally retired of water, portion melted snow, Dr. Mitchell said. But don’t portion alcohol. It volition disorient you.

Have wipes and a vessel useful if you request to spell to the bathroom, Dr. Lipman said.

While your telephone whitethorn supply a needed distraction, it is important to sphere your artillery truthful that you tin marque exigency calls, helium said. Close your browser and immoderate different battery-draining apps.

Instead, you tin distract yourself by doing tiny exercises successful the car, which volition besides assistance you enactment warm, Dr. Lipman said.

Lean breeds, older dogs, and puppies are much susceptible to hypothermia, according to the American Kennel Club.

Experts said you should see items for your pets successful your exigency kit, specified arsenic a broad and food. While successful the car, you could huddle with your favored for warmth. Ideally, you tin screen the favored with immoderate signifier of insulation.

When your motor is running, crook connected your hazard lights oregon dome lights truthful rescuers tin spot you, experts said.

The National Weather Service suggests tying a bright-colored cloth to your antenna oregon door. When the snowfall lets up, rise the hood to awesome for help.

Drive dilatory to debar skidding, and enactment that it takes longer to decelerate successful icy roadworthy conditions, according to AAA. Accelerating excessively rapidly tin origin wheels to rotation retired of control.

Maintain region from different cars, trucks, and snowfall plows.

Tire unit drops successful acold weather. Drivers should inspect tires monthly and earlier agelong trips, according to guidance issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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