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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

What to do if you're stranded in your vehicle

Since we're discussing winter driving, I thought I'd post some more emergency vehicle recommendations. If you've become stranded, what exactly should you do?

Below is copied from the Denver Office of Emergency Management.
Before you start out on any winter trip, it is always smart to check the travel conditions for the location you are traveling. If there are closed roads because of severe winter weather, obey the law and do not attempt to travel on closed highways. If you are stranded in a blizzard, stay in your vehicle. Disorientation and hypothermia occurs quickly in blowing and drifting snow. You are more likely to be found in your vehicle, and it will provide the best possible shelter. If you do get stranded, there are some common sense recommendations:
1) Do not panic.
2) Stay in your vehicle.
3) Use supplies conservatively from your vehicle supplies kit.
4) If you are stuck during the day place an orange or red flag on your antenna. At night leave your dome light on, only while the car is running.
5) Remember to occasionally check your tailpipe to make sure it is free of snow. Clean the pipe to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning when the engine is running.
6) If there is more than one person in the car, take turns sleeping. If you are alone in the car, do not sleep while the engine is running.
7) Do some minor exercising in the vehicle to keep up circulation.
8) If you have a cellular phone, call for assistance and provide authorities with your location. Do not run down the battery!
9) When the snow has stopped. Try stamping a big "HELP" signal in the snow beside your vehicle.
(Personally, I think I'd put #8, call for assistance, a little higher up on the list!)

And below, the Massachusetts DOT has their recommendations.
Call 911. If you have access to a telephone call 911 to summons help. In other states you may be able to call 911 or "O" to get the operator on the line. When you talk to authorities, be prepared to:
Describe the location, condition of your companions and the trouble you are experiencing.
Listen for questions.
Follow any instruction. You may be told you should stay where you are to guide rescuers or to return to the scene.
Do not hang up until you know who you have spoken with and what will happen next.
Stay in your vehicle. Walking in a storm can be very dangerous. You can lose your way, wander out of reach, become exhausted, collapse and risk your life. Your vehicle itself is a good shelter.
Avoid overexertion. Attempting to push your car, trying to jack it into a new position or shoveling snow takes great effort in storm conditions. You could risk heart attack or other injury. Calm down and think. The storm will end and you will be found. Don't work enough to get hot and sweaty. Wet clothing loses insulation quality making you more susceptible to the effects of hypothermia.
Keep fresh air in your vehicle. It is much better to be chilly or cold and awake than to become comfortably warm and slip into unconsciousness. Freezing-wet or wind-driven snow can plug your vehicle's exhaust system causing deadly carbon monoxide gas to enter your vehicle.
Don't run the engine-unless you are certain the exhaust pipe is free of snow or other objects. Keep the radiator free from snow to prevent the engine from overheating. Run the engine at 10 minute intervals for heat.
Turn on the dome light at night, but only when running the engine.
Keep your blood circulating freely by loosening tight clothing, changing positions frequently and moving your arms and legs. Huddle close to one another. Rub your hands together or put them under your armpits or between your legs. Remove your shoes occasionally and rub your feet.
Don't expect to be comfortable. The challenge is to survive until you're found.
Make yourself visible to rescuers. Tie a bright cloth to your antenna or door handle.

I think these are great recommendations. I made two copies of both of these, so that I could have one in each vehicle. I don't want to rely on my memory to guide me during this type of an emergency!
Prep on and be safe!
Gen--IL Homesteader

4 comments:

mmpaints said...

Good post Gen. Excellent common sense instruction from the mile high city, eh?

Gen-IL Homesteader said...

Yeah! I especially love the one about 'the challenge is to survive'! Isn't that what we're trying to do as preppers?! Thanks for stopping in, MM!

erniesjourney said...

Great post Gen!! We all need to be ready, even in our cars! BOB goes everywhere with us - summer or winter!
Ernie

Gen-IL Homesteader said...

Hey, thanks for stopping in, Ernie!

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