What to Do if Stuck in Winter Driving Conditions

Posted on: January 17th, 2017 by Accurate Auto Body Shop No Comments

stuck in winter driving conditions Imagine if you were driving on a winter day or night on I-70 across the mountains and you get stuck in the snow. What would you do? Unfortunately, this happens a lot on the road. Vail pass, especially, claims a lot of stuck vehicles each year. And, we know that it can be scary and you can feel extremely helpless. But, if you take a little time to prepare before you drive, you will be just fine. As your auto body repair team, we have put together some tips for what to do if you are stuck in winter driving conditions.

Be Prepared for Heavy Winter Driving

If you are going to be driving during the winter, you should always be prepared. Some important items you should have on hand in your car are:

  • Shovel  – You may need to shovel out your car if you get stuck somewhere
  • Extra Gloves – Make sure you pack extra gloves in the car as you will want them when clearing snow from your car
  • Candles and Matches – A candle is a great source of heat and light, but you will need to crack a window.
  • Cooler with Water – Fill a small cooler with water bottles and have them handy so you can stay hydrated.
  • Food – Always carry extra food including fruit and good snacks like beef jerky, cheese, crackers, and nuts.
  • Cell phone and backup battery – Have a cell phone and, it is a good idea, to have a portable battery for your phone so it can stay charged longer.
  • Ice Scraper – You will need to, periodically, go out and clear snow and ice from the car windows.
  • Bag of Cat Litter – This is good for traction.
  • Blankets – Packing a blanket for each passenger is a must for winter driving.
  • Flashlight – You may use this to provide light as well as keep you safe in the dark, especially if you are working on the side of the road.

Stuck in Snow? Here are Tips on How to Get Out

If you do get stuck on the road, here are some things you should do to help get your car out.

Remove Snow and Ice

If you are stuck, or have been stuck for awhile, and want to try and get your car out, you will likely need to do a little digging. You will want to have the car running, so you can have the windows defrosting. Use a shovel and remove the snow from around the tires and dig a path in the direction you wish to go. If you don’t have a shovel, a hubcap or Frisbee will do the trick. Then, scrape your windshield to remove built up ice. If you don’t have a scraper, a credit card or CD case will work.

Rock and Roll

Turn your car’s wheels from side to side a few times. This will help push any remaining snow away. Then, gently ease your car forward, even a few inches are good. Then, shift into reverse and gently ease the car backward. Keep repeating this back and forth until the tires gain traction. If your tires just spin, stop immediately as the spinning will only dig you deeper. Also, if you have a passenger, have them stand outside and help push from the driver side window. But, never let anyone stand behind the vehicle as you could easily slide backward and into them.

Create Additional Traction

If this doesn’t work, spread some cat litter or sand on the ground. This will help you get traction in the snow. And, if you do not have cat litter, you can use your car mats or twigs to create the needed traction to get your vehicle moving.

What if You Can’t Get Out of the Snow?

If you cannot get out, you should stay in your car and use it as shelter. Only leave your vehicle if you can see a building in the distance and can safely get to it. But, if you cannot see shelter, it is best to simply hunker down in the car and stay warm.

Stay Hydrated and Keep Nourished

Drink at least 5 oz of water per hour (about a third of a water bottle) and eat some food such as beef jerky, granola bars, or nuts. Water will keep you hydrated, while the food will help keep your body warm as you metabolized it.

Running Car Considerations

You can leave your car running, but you will need to regularly ensure your exhaust pipe is clear. Otherwise, carbon monoxide can enter the car! Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are fatigue, headache, and nausea. If you feel any of these symptoms, immediately turn off your car and open a window. Also, if you are running your car, keep an eye on your gasoline levels. In extreme situations, you could be hunkered down for days, so you may need to use your gas sparingly and make sure you have enough gas to get down the road when conditions allow.

If you have candles, you can to light one and use it as a source of heat versus running your engine. A candle, in the space of a car, will keep you surprisingly warm. A simple tea candle, placed inside a tin can, creates a nice little space heater which can fit inside a cup holder.

Contact Authorities

If you have a cell phone, be sure to call authorities and let them know your location. Use your phone or car’s GPS to pinpoint your exact location so they can send help. You may also want to tie some bright fabric, if you have it, to your car’s antenna as a signal to rescuers. If needed, you can periodically turn on your vehicle to charge the cell phone (again, make sure you clear the exhaust pipe).

Keeping Warm and Using Heat Efficiently

Also, hunker down with your blankets and, if there are others in the car, huddle together to generate heat from each other’s body. Also, if you have a larger car, you can hang a blanket with tape to seal off sections of the car where there is no one sitting. This will help reduce the space of the area that requires heat and allow your use of heat to go further. This is similar to closing off rooms in your home when you have a fire roaring in your fireplace. Lastly, you can use newspaper, taped up to cover your windows as added insulation against the cold coming off the glass.

How to Use this Information

We certainly do not want anyone to get stuck in winter driving conditions. The best bet is to stay off the road if there is severe weather and don’t risk it. But, if you do have to head out, be prepared and do keep necessities like water, food, blankets, shovel, and flashlight in your car. If you are doing a longer road trip up I-70, you will want to take more precautions and quantities of water and food with you. As always, if you have need of repair, call us at 303-344-2212 or contact us online.

Leave a Reply