Education & Safety

Stranded in the Snow – What to Do Next

Slippin’ and slidin’

Driving in the winter can be an adventure. From snow-covered roads to sleet and freezing rain, Old Man Winter always keeps you on your toes. While you’re a careful and cautious driver, you start to slide on the snow and before you know it you are stuck on the side of the road in what seems like a mountain of snow.

The snow is starting to pick up in intensity and it looks you’ll be stuck in your car for a while. What should you do to make the best of this less than ideal situation? Get prepared and stay safe with these tips.

Prepare, prepare, prepare

The first tip is something you need to take care of long before even one snowflake falls. Besides an emergency road kit, be prepared for a winter road emergency with these cold-weather essentials:

  • Winter-weather gear (jacket, gloves, hat & boots)
  • Tire chains
  • Blanket
  • Shovel
  • Ice scraper
  • Fire starter
  • Kitty litter

Fill up


In the winter, it is advisable to drive with at least a half tank of gas. The more gas you have in your tank, the longer you’ll be able to run your vehicle in the event of an emergency. You’ll not only be able to run the heat to stay warm, you’ll be able to keep your phone charged.

Stay put

If it is safe, staying in your vehicle is your best bet if you get stranded. It not only makes it easier for you to be located by rescue personnel, but your vehicle will give you shelter and protection from the elements. Unless help or a building to take cover in is a short walk away, stay in your car. In freezing temperatures, you can only survive a few hours without shelter.

Call for help


One of the first things you should do is use your cellphone to alert the authorities. Tell them exactly where you are and if anyone in the car has a medical condition. Conserve your cellphone battery – you don’t know how long you might be stranded.

Make yourself visible

To make yourself visible to other drivers, turn on your hazard lights and put road flares or safety triangles out near your vehicle. Be sure to keep your seatbelt on – even though you’re off the road, other cars could still hit you. Tie a red piece of fabric to your antenna or door handle to signal that you are in the vehicle.

Keep warm


Gather up the blankets and clothes you have. Layer the clothes and blankets over the clothes you are already wearing – doing this will trap your body heat.

You can also stay warm by running your car heater for 10 minutes every hour – this will help conserve gas in the event you are stranded for a long period of time. Make sure that the tailpipe is clear of snow before doing this; there is a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Continue to check your tailpipe each time you start your vehicle.

Stay moving

Every hour or so move different parts of your body. While you are sitting, wiggle your fingers, move your hands and feet and stretch your arms and legs this exertion of energy will help you stay warm and increase circulation.

Don’t forget to eat and drink


Hopefully your emergency road kit includes food and water. If you don’t have water, you can melt snow to drink. Don’t eat snow for hydration; it lowers your body temperature. If you have no food, search your car, purse or bag for granola bars, candy bars or other snacks.

Look everywhere - something may have slipped between the seats or is tucked away in the glovebox that can provide you sustenance while you wait for help. While you need water to survive, you can make it with no food in freezing temperatures for up to three weeks.


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The content contained in this article is for entertainment and informational purposes only and should not be used in lieu of seeking professional advice from a certified technician or mechanic. We encourage you to consult with a certified technician or mechanic if you have specific questions or concerns relating to any of the topics covered herein. Under no circumstances will we be liable for any loss or damage caused by your reliance on any content.

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