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Stranded in the Snow? Be Prepared

It has only been a short time since Snowpocalypse I, the winter storm that left thousands stranded in their cars in the Atlanta area. Now winter storm Pax is burying the East Coast and leaving residents from Atlanta to North Carolina stranded yet again as it headed north with Snowpocalypse – the Sequel.

Residents of the Northest may be more equipped for Pax’s punch, but it’s never a bad idea to go over some basic winter storm car safety tips. Whether you are picking up your child from school or just trying to make it home from work, here’s what to do if you get stranded in your car.

Plan ahead

First things first, keep an eye on the weather. Go the store and get food and a full tank of gas ahead of the storm. Before going to school or work, check the hourly forecast. If you are worried the storm will be bad, make arrangements to stay home. It’s better to be home safe, than stranded in below freezing temps.

Once the storm starts, stay inside. You may not think the conditions are that bad but between low visibility and slippery ice you could be in serious danger.

If you absolutely have to leave the house, pack supplies for the car. Bring a blanket, food, water, a flashlight, a fully charged cellphone and, many Atlanta residents might suggest, a book. Cat litter is good, too, if you find you need extra traction.

Some residents were stranded overnight during the southern snow storm and you don’t want to be stuckin your car overnight without food or warmth. It’s also a good idea to check road conditions and plan your route. Avoid short cuts on potentially icy back roads and stick to heavily traveled routes where more people can spot you.

Stay calm

If you are out driving in your car and get stranded, stay calm and stay with your vehicle. In the cold, your car is your best protection against the elements. Abandoning your car should be a last resort. Because it will be cold, you’ll be tempted to keep the car running but use the heater sparingly. Only run your engine for 10 minutes every hour or so. This will be enough to keep you warm and save your fuel.

Now, call 9-1-1 and describe your location as precisely as possible. While you are waiting for rescue, try to make your car easy to find. This could mean tying a brightly colored cloth or plastic to your antenna or flashing your hazard lights if you see or hear another vehicle. If you are sitting in traffic, such as the residents in Atlanta, it’s not necessary to do this.

Take care of yourself

While you are waiting to be rescued, it’s vital for you to take proper care of yourself. That means staying hydrated and warm. If you don’t have any water with you, you can opt for snow. However, you should melt the snow first to reduce your chance of getting hypothermia. To stay warm, use a blanket or whatever you have handy and make sure you move around at least once every hour. Snap yours fingers, clap your hands, heck, even do the Macarena. Whatever helps keep your blood flowing.

Another important thing to remember: the threat of carbon monoxide. Every once in a while hop out of the car and check the tailpipe to make sure there’s no snow clogging it up. If you see a clog, clear it out. Otherwise the carbon monoxide will travel back inside the vehicle and could be deadly.

Regardless of where you live, getting stranded in a snowstorm is scary. It’s important to be prepared and to stay calm. Always remember, the best way to prevent being stranded is to simply stay at home.