What to Do if Your Car Breaks Down in the Winter
Breaking down on a deserted road in the winter is worst-case scenario, but it’s always good to be prepared.
Here are 7 steps to follow if you and your vehicle get stranded in the snow.
- Make sure your vehicle is prepared. Keep an Emergency Kit in your car with all the winter essentials: blankets, non-perishable food, warm clothes, flashlights, pen and paper, shovels and flares.
- Stay in your car. If your car breaks down in a deserted area, stay in your vehicle as much as possible. While it’s tempting to walk until you find help, you risk getting lost or developing hypothermia. People will search for you along the route you travelled, so stay inside your vehicle and alert potential passersby.
Call for help. Charge your phone before hitting the road so you can call for help, and consider investing in a phone charger for your car. Don’t just rely on technology, however; carry a map in your car and use flares to attract nearby motorists. It’s also helpful to hang a brightly coloured object from your antenna, or to trace the word HELP in the snow on your windshield.
Use your engine sparingly. It’s tempting to keep your engine on, but this can be dangerous if you don’t know when help is coming. Run your engine for five minutes every half hour or 10 minutes every hour, and occasionally crack open the windows to ventilate your vehicle.
- Don’t try to dig yourself out. If your car is stuck in a ditch or mountain of snow, don’t waste too much heat and energy trying to dig yourself out. Definitely give it a try, but if it’s a lost cause after fifteen minutes, stay warm in your vehicle and wait for help.
Keep hydrated. It’s important to drink water while you wait for help. If you don’t have bottled water on hand in your vehicle, melt snow in a dish or empty container and let it warm up. Remember not to eat snow because it will lower your body temperature!
Stay awake. Falling asleep will increase your risk of hypothermia. Sing, play a game, and keep moving around – whatever it takes to keep yourself awake!
Have you ever been stranded in the winter? What steps did you take?