Survival Basics

Surviving Stranded in a Car

One potential survival situation that anyone who lives in a snowy part of the country might encounter is being stuck in your car in a blizzard. There’s always a chance of going off the road into a snowbank or ditch and having to spend the night in the car before you are found. If you’re driving in remote areas, that chance becomes even greater. 

Things to do before you leave home

The question then becomes, what do you do? Hopefully you’ve thought ahead and stocked some basic survival gear in your car. As always, having the right gear will help you to survive. 

The other thing that will help will be to have informed someone about your plans, including where you’re going, the route you’re going to take, and when you expect to get there. That will give them the ability to call for help on your behalf, if you aren’t able to call for yourself.

What to do when you’re stuck

Don’t try to get out

Once you have determined that you truly are stuck, you should shift over to survival mode. Don’t try to get out; but rather stay with your car. Any searchers, including police patrolling on that road, are much more likely to see your car, than they are to see you. Your car can also provide you with shelter, protecting you from the wind and snow, and even to some extent from the cold. 

If for any reason you have to leave the car, such as to determine if it is actually stuck or to clean snow away from the tailpipe, then tie yourself to the car on a tether. A simple piece of paracord or other cordage, tied to you on one end and your steering wheel on the other, will make sure you can find your way back, even if you get disoriented in whiteout conditions. 

Keep yourself warm

The next thing to concern yourself with is keeping warm. Your car has minimal insulation between the outer skin and the inner panels, so you’re going to need to do something about that. If you have survival blankets and some duct tape with you, you can tape them to the inside of the vehicle’s cabin, covering the ceiling, windows, door panels, and dash area. This will help reflect your body heat back towards, you, keeping most of it inside the vehicle. 

If you have blankets or extra coats, use them for insulation, helping to hold your body heat in. This is different than what the rescue blankets are doing, as they are heat reflectors, not insulation. 

Run the engine in alternating periods of 15 minutes

To provide yourself with more heat, run the engine in alternating periods of 15 minutes, on and off, assuming you have enough gas to do so. The engine won’t get so cold in 15 minutes that it can’t quickly heat up, providing you with heat. While the car won’t really get warm enough for comfort, it will get warm enough for you to survive. 

You’ll need to go out and check the tailpipe from time to time, to make sure that it doesn’t become blocked. This is best done just before the next time you’re going to run the engine, so that when you get back inside, you can warm up. 

Surviving Stranded in a Car

Getting heat with candles

Another way to add heat to the inside of your car is with candles. While candles don’t produce a lot of heat, they do produce some. A few candles will help take the chill off, even if they won’t get it comfortably warm. 

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Keep yourself hydrated and eat high energy snacks. If you have to use the bathroom, do it in a plastic bag and then set the bag outside. 

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