Stranded in your car in the cold winter

There is nothing here to practice. Simply review this information at least once before every winter. Stock your car with the emergency winter kit items and keep at least a quarter tank of gas in your tank at all times!

Snow, slush and ice can make driving difficult in the winter months. It's easier to get in an accident and more dangerous if you become stranded. Cold and precipitation can cause hypothermia and even death if you're not prepared.

Before winter...

Make sure your car battery is less than 5 years old and operating well. If it's over 4 years old or if your car has had trouble starting, replace it. If there is a white discharge around the battery contacts, replace it. The colder the temperature, the weaker your battery's starting power is. At 32û, a car's battery loses 35% of its power. At 0û, a car's battery loses 60% of its power. So having a strong battery in the cold winter is crucial to avoid becoming stranded.

Equip your car with an emergency winter kit that includes the following:

  • Battery jumper cables such as the product "Start Me Up": Batteries drain faster in the cold.
  • An emergency fuel additive such as "Rescue" or "Spare Tank"
  • First aid kit
  • Shovel
  • Basic tool kit: pliers, screwdriver, adjustable wrench and pocket knife
  • Warm sleeping bags and/or blankets
  • A 72-hour supply of bottled water
  • High-calorie nonperishable food (canned nuts, candy bars, nutrition bars) keep them warm if possible so they're easier to eat.
  • Battery-operated radio with extra batteries
  • Wireless phone with emergency numbers: You could end up out of range so bring the radio.
  • Flashlights with extra batteries
  • Extra dry clothes in water tight bags: gloves, mittens, boots, socks, hats, long underwear
  • Towels in case you get wet. There's no quicker way to catch hypothermia.
  • Any medications you need
  • Windshield scraper
  • Bag of sand to help tire traction
  • Bright colored cloth for signaling help
  • A healthy spare tire with the proper tools and hardware (as always)

During cold driving conditions...

  • Drive more conservatively when snow, ice or water are present. Increase the distance you normally drive between you and the car ahead of you. Start slowing down earlier than you normally would.
  • Avoid driving with little gas in the tank. It's a good idea to always keep your tank one quarter full at all times.
  • Make sure all other fluids are full.
  • Make sure your wipers work well to avoid an accident.
  • When driving through isolated areas always let someone know where you are going, when you're leaving and what time you will be expected.
  • In extreme cold, always use an antifreeze and keep the tank close to full to prevent your fuel line from freezing.

If you become stranded in winter conditions...

  • Stay with your vehicle. Emergency crews can find your car a lot easier than they can find you alone. You will more easily avoid frostbite and hypothermia by staying in the car and out of the snow and wind.
  • Tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna.
  • Avoid exposure to the cold and overexertion when attempting to push the car or shovel heavy snowdrifts.
  • Keep the doors unlocked.
  • If the locks are frozen and you need to get inside, heat your key with a lighter.

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