Many hazards come with winter driving, but the possibility of being stranded in your vehicle due to a blizzard or dangerous road conditions could be one of the worst. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), winter storms are considered “deceptive killers” because most deaths are indirectly related to the storm, like traffic accidents caused by snowy or icy conditions or hypothermia from prolonged exposure to cold.
If you’re stranded in your car or truck, follow these tips until OnStar is able to get help to you:
• Stay in your vehicle. Disorientation can occur quickly in wind-driven snow and cold.
• Run the motor about 10 minutes each hour for heat. Open the window a little for fresh air to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning and make sure the exhaust pipe is not blocked.
• Make yourself visible to rescuers: Turn on the dome light at night when running the engine, tie a colored cloth (preferably red) to your antenna or door, raise the hood to indicate trouble after snow stops falling.
• Vigorously move around your arms, legs, fingers and toes from time to time to keep blood circulating and help keep warm.
• Avoid overexertion such as shoveling heavy snow, pushing a car or walking in deep snow. The strain from the cold and hard labor may cause a heart attack, and sweating could lead to a chill and hypothermia.
Signs of hypothermia
Hypothermia occurs when your body loses heat faster than it can produce it. Warning signs include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness and apparent exhaustion. If someone is showing signs of hypothermia, it’s important to get medical help as soon as possible. Don’t give the person alcohol, drugs, coffee or any hot beverage or food.
Winter survival kit
Check the weather report before you leave. Keep your gas tank near full and always let someone know where you’re going and what time you should arrive. And never leave without a winter survival kit in your vehicle.
It should include:
• blankets/sleeping bags
• flashlight with extra batteries
• first-aid kit
• high-calorie, non-perishable food
• extra clothing to keep dry
• a large empty can and plastic cover with tissues and paper towels for sanitary purposes
• a smaller can and water-proof matches to melt snow for drinking water;
• sack of sand (or cat litter)
• windshield scraper and brush
• tool kit
• tow rope
• booster cables
• water container
• compass and road maps
Keep everything together and easy to find in a hard-sided storage box with a latching lid or a large duffel bag.
Remember, if you get stranded in a storm, the OnStar Advisor can pinpoint your exact location using GPS technology and can send help to you. Plus, your Advisor can help connect you with family or friends so you can let them know you’re OK.
Source: A Guide to Survival; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
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