Urgent Steps for Surviving a Vehicle Break Down This Winter

Urgent Steps for Surviving a Vehicle Break Down This Winter

January 26, 2023

Breaking down on the side of the road is never great, but breaking down in cold winter temps can actually be dangerous. If you find yourself stranded during a winter storm during extremely cold temps, there are certain steps you will need to take to keep yourself safe until help arrives.

But what to do if car breaks down in cold weather? This quick guide will provide you with some basic safety tips.

Move To Safe Area

If possible, get your vehicle as far out of harm’s way as possible. This means getting the vehicle out of the stream of traffic. You also need to ensure that you keep yourself out of traffic. Many accidents and fatalities have occurred because of stranded drivers getting hit by traffic while outside of their vehicles. Keep your flashers on for as long as your battery will allow.

Stay in the Car

So, how do you stay warm if your car breaks down? This is a crucial question during the winter months. Remember, inside your vehicle is warmer than outside, even if the vehicle is completely dead. You will be out of the wind, and you will stay dry. Staying dry is crucial to staying safe during very low temps.

Call 911 as quickly as possible to get help on the way if someone is hurt or your vehicle was struck. If you have roadside assistance, and no one is injured, you can simply call your roadside assistance. If you do not have roadside assistance, call a friend or family member who can help. If you have no one else to call, you can reach out to 911 even if no one is injured.

Check the Tailpipe

The only time you should get out of the vehicle would be to check the tailpipe. If the vehicle is stuck in a snowbank, you should get out only long enough to ensure that the tailpipe is not filled with snow. If the tailpipe is filled with snow, and you are running the car for warmth, the car’s cabin can fill up with carbon monoxide gas. This is fatal.

You can also leave the vehicle only long enough to set up reflective pylons if you have them in your vehicle.

More on Carbon Monoxide

Many people don’t realize that they are more in danger of carbon monoxide than freezing if their car breaks down in winter. If you are going to be waiting a while for help to arrive and you are running the car, be sure to crack a window. You may not want to do this at first because of the cold, but it is necessary to release fumes.

You also should not run your engine the entire time you are waiting. Run it for a few minutes an hour. This will keep the vehicle warm without increasing the chances of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Pack an Emergency Kit

This is a step you should take now to ensure you can safely withstand a winter breakdown. A good car emergency kit should have the following items:

  • Shovel
  • Windshield washer fluid
  • Jumper cables
  • Warm clothes
  • Boots
  • Water
  • Energy bars
  • Ice scrapers
  • Blankets
  • Flashlights
  • First aid kit


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