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How to Survive a Roadside Emergency in Winter


Remove your emergency supplies from your trunk and bring them into the car. Immediately put on any extra winter clothing, such as a hat and gloves. See Resources below.


Perform any necessary repairs you are equipped to handle. Fix the flat, put on the spare tire, replace a blown fuse.


Remove snow from around the car and spread something that will give you traction around the wheels. Slowly accelerate, keeping the wheels straight.


Light a flare or place reflective triangles near the rear of your car to increase your visibility to passing motorists.


Prevent carbon monoxide poisoning when running your car to stay warm. Clear the snow away from the exhaust pipe with a shovel or other object. Open one window a small crack for ventilation.


Run your engine and heater for only 10 minutes each hour. This will conserve gas and allow you to stay warm over a longer period. Use all spare clothes, blankets or chemical hand warmers to stay as warm as possible.


Keep well hydrated. Use a heat source and metal container to melt snow for drinking.


If you have a cellphone, use it to call for help. If you don't know any local numbers to call, dial information or call someone you know and ask them to find help for you. Look for signs or landmarks so you can offer some idea of where you are.

Tips and Warnings

  • Turn on the radio when you run the engine and listen to weather updates.
  • Do not leave your car unless you know there is shelter within a reasonable distance. It is easy to become disoriented traveling through a snowstorm on foot.
  • Don't spend too much time outside the vehicle trying to fix problems that can't be fixed.

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  • How to Avoid Getting Caught Speeding
  • How to Obey the "Move Over Law" When Passing Stopped Emergency Vehicles
  • Barometric Pressure & Effects on Fuel Consumption
  • Defensive Driving Courses in New York State