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How to Survive Being Trapped in Your Vehicle in a Snowstorm

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Winter is right around the corner, and while winters in Oregon are typically mild, it’s always important to make sure you’re prepared for the worst. This is especially important for any time you’re driving in the snow because of the real risk of getting caught in a snowstorm. Read on to see five things you can do if you get trapped inside your vehicle in a snowstorm this winter so you can improve your safety.

Have a First Aid Kit in Your Car

This first thing is a necessity, not just for the winter, but through all seasons. You should check your first aid kit to make sure it has necessities like a flashlight, whistle, sterile gauze pads, aspirin, an antiseptic agent, water, and some non-perishable food items. This is important because you have no idea how long you will be trapped in the snow and you need to increase your chances of staying safe until help arrives. In the United States, the three main causes of car accidents are speeding, drunk driving, and driving while distracted, so make sure to avoid all of these and you will improve your chances of making it to your destination and back home safely.

Stay In Your Car

Unless you are completely sure about a destination where you will find help and its distance from where you are, you are better off staying in your car. Snow can make distances difficult to approximate by sight, and things may appear to be closer than they are. Avoid putting yourself in harm’s way by remaining in your car, which will serve as shelter from the extreme weather. If you have a red cloth or similar material, find a way to place it outside of your car so it can serve as a beacon, then call emergency services if you have your phone with you and it’s functioning.

Use a Road Flare

During winter, it’s more important than ever to always have flares in your car. If you happen to get stranded in raging weather, you can set off a flare after every given period, improving your chances of being found. If you have a few, space out their use so that you increase your chances of having someone come across one. There are 17,985 police agencies in the U.S. so you can rest assured knowing that your vehicle may be spotted by a police car or highway patrol.

Always Load Enough Gas

Because you don’t know how long you will be on the road in the winter, or the situations you may come across, it’s advisable to always make sure that your car has at least half a tank full of gas. This will make it more likely for you to survive being trapped in a snowstorm for a longer time. Enough gas in the car will allow you to keep warm and have access to the clean air that’s not freezing. Use it sparingly, however, running the engine for ten minutes every hour with one window cracked so you don’t get carbon monoxide poisoning. If you don’t have much gas, only run the engine once or twice each day for ten minutes to keep your fuel from freezing and the battery from dying.

Be Aware of Road Conditions

Finally, pay attention to the day’s weather forecasts, noting that a winter storm warning means that there’s about an 80% chance of snow, ice, sleet, or a combination of two in a certain area. According to a study by Knott Laboratory on commercial vehicle towing accidents, a 35-mph crosswind can put up to 3,440 pounds of force pushing against a large trailer’s side, and this is just an example of how much force nature can produce.

Take note of the five tips above, and you will likely make it to and from your destination safely.

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