7 Tips for Blizzard Safety

December 3, 2018
Categories: Safety, Health, Travel Tips

In the unlikely event that you find yourself trapped in a car during a blizzard, it’s important to know what to do. Do you call for help right away? Do you get out of the car? What supplies should you have just in case?

“The first thing to do is remain calm,” said Matt Napiltonia, a former Navy SEAL and Medical Services Officer who now serves as Global Rescue Operations Manager, Medical and Security Operations.

Matt provides 7 recommendations for blizzard survival:

1.Be Prepared With An Emergency Kit

There are a few things you can do to prepare yourself for a snow-in situation. First, make sure your car is stocked with supplies in the winter if you live in an at-risk area. “Absolutely keep an emergency kit [in your car], and keep your gas tank above three quarters," Napiltonia said. 

The fuel adds weight to your car, which keeps the vehicle centered on the road while allowing for better handling in icy situations.

Napiltonia also recommends keeping the following in your vehicle during winter:

2. Have A Source of Water

In case you find yourself stuck, it's essential to have enough water.

"Keep about three gallons per person per day," Napiltonia said. "That's the general rule, but it's a lot of water to carry so as long as you have some [you should be fine]. I also recommend you keep a water container or metal jug to collect snow."

In an emergency situation, potable water can be retrieved from snow by melting it on your dashboard in a container.

"Let it melt first because you burn up energy trying to melt it as you take it in," Napiltonia said. "So if you have a stove, melt the snow in small quantities or in a metal jug."

3.Keep Your Vehicle Well-Serviced

Another way to be prepared for blizzard driving is to keep your car well-maintained.

"Regular maintenance and recommended oil changes are important," Napiltonia said. "In wintertime, make sure you have good tires -- snow tires with good tread. Refilling windshield washer fluid is not a bad idea either."

Napiltonia also recommended weighing down your car by keeping a sandbag or a bag of kitty litter in the back. By doing this, you're increasing stopping time and traction while decreasing potential swerving.

4.Take Inventory Of The Situation

If you do find yourself driving in the midst of a blizzard, it's important to remain calm and take inventory of your situation. Where are you? Are you stuck? Are you on the road or off?

"If you are stuck, make sure the exhaust pipe is clear," Napiltonia said. "If your pipe is blocked, and your car is running, you could get backup of exhaust gases."

Napiltonia also recommended putting up roadside flares in front of and behind your vehicle -- especially if you're located on a curve.

"Make yourself visible," Napiltonia said. Then, call 911 if a phone is available.

5.Stay In Your Vehicle

Should you stay or should you go? The golden rule is to stay in your stranded vehicle, unless you're in sight of a building. In that case, seek alternative shelter.

"The difficulty comes if you're in a white-out blizzard because leaving [your car] could leave you disoriented," Napiltonia said. "The car is a safe place."

Once you've assessed your situation, shovel out a trench in front of your tires. Then, put down sand or kitty litter, and use that as traction to get back on the road. Once you're mobile, find a more suitable spot -- like a parking lot or a clearing -- to pull over and find safety.

6.Stay Warm

If you're going to be inside your vehicle for a long period of time, warmth is key.

"Circulation will drop and so will body temperature," Napiltonia said. "Do some workouts and keep moving. Get in the back seat so you can stretch your legs. Keep the blood flowing. Run your car for 10 minutes every hour after making sure the exhaust is clear."

While your car is on, you can charge your phone and put a container of snow on the dashboard to melt for water.

7.Don’t Drive In Storms

Finally, the best thing you can do to avoid getting stuck in a blizzard is to not drive during one.

"Prevention is worth everything in cases like this," Napiltonia said. But if you must brave the elements, be sure to dress the part. "If you live in a city -- a lot of people commute to work and are not dressed for winter -- keep extra layers in your car. It doesn't take much to throw those items in the back."



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