We’ve all had that thought, “what should I do if I’m stranded on the road?”. It’s pretty normal to run through stressful scenarios in our head to help us mentally plan and prepare for the worst. However, instead of just idly thinking about possible scenarios, it’s important to actually prepare for them. In the case of what to do if you’re stranded on the road this winter, preparedness can be as simple as following these tips: 

If the weather’s not great, stay home

Sometimes you don’t have a choice but to get out in nasty weather, but if you do – just stay put. Getting stranded in your car can be frustrating enough, but add in harsh winter weather and the situation can turn dangerous pretty quick.  In 2018 along, AAA estimated that 46% of all crashes involving bad weather took place in the winter – almost 1 million people. 

If you do end up having to get out, taking good care of your vehicle beforehand can come in handy. Check out our top winter maintenance tips to keep your car in tip-top shape all season long. Like they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, right? 

Always have a ‘car survival kit’ on hand in case you get stranded on the road

In the event you are stranded, you don’t want to be caught completely unprepared. This is where stowing away a car survival kit can be a literal lifesaver. In some parts of the country, winter temperatures can hit sub-zero levels, so it’s important to have enough backup clothing and things to give you energy while you wait to be rescued. 

A good winter car survival kit should include: 

  • Extra warm clothing/blankets
  • Non-perishable snacks and bottled water
  • And extra phone charger or adapter
  • Boots (in case you need to get out of your car)
  • A flashlight
  • Jumper cables
  • Signaling flares
  • A lighter

Stay in your car

If you’re stranded during the winter, the safest place you can be is in your car. Call AAA or someone you know to help, and stay inside. Especially in the extreme cold, being outside for even just a few minutes can dramatically increase your chance of developing frostbite or hypothermia. 

If you do have to get out for any reason though, it’s important to bundle up, protect your extremities, and wear winter boots. 

Keep warm and conserve energy

While it can be tempting to keep the heat running constantly, you don’t know how long you’ll be out there in the cold. To conserve as much energy as possible while still staying warm, try to run your car for 10 minutes an hour. Modern cars are excellent at retaining heat, so this should be plenty to keep you warm while you wait for help. While you’re waiting, it’s also a good idea to put on any gloves, extra socks, and scarves that you may have in your car survival kit. 

Getting stranded out on the road during the middle of winter is no joke. But by following these tips, you’re much more likely to stay safe – and potentially avoid ever being stranded in the first place. Check out more car safety tips – like how to deal with a flat tire while social distancing – on the Headlights blog. 

Claire Biggerstaff
Claire Biggerstaff is a freelance writer and photographer from Charlotte, NC. Her curiosity leads her to write about a wide variety of topics. On her off days, she enjoys reading Polygon articles, and curling up to a good YouTube playlist.

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    1 Comment

    1. This is great advise. Personally i would stay home if i feel it is too dangerous to drive. Better safe than sorry!

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