What to do When You’re Stranded on a Snowy Highway

Such is the scene in much of New York, where the governor has declared a state of emergency in 10 snow-hit counties.

All the talk this week is about the nasty weather hitting much of the nation. At the time of this writing, the hardest-hit area is Buffalo, NY, currently buried under some 60 inches snow. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has declared a state of emergency for 10 of the states’ western counties most impacted by the snow – a move prompted in part by reports of five deaths, including that of a 46-year-old man found dead in his snow-buried car and another killed in a car accident. That declaration means that some 1,000 transportation personnel operating 526 snow plows, 74 large loaders and 21 snow blowers, as well as 150 National Guardsmen are on their way.

That’s good news for the hundreds of people who have been stranded in their vehicles on New York’s roadways. Among them – 24 members of the Niagara University Women’s Basketball team stuck on a bus on I-90 for some 27 hours before being rescued. Should you find yourself in a similar situation, E3 Spark Plugs offers these tips:

  • Safely pull off the roadway and make yourself visible to rescuers by turning on your hazard lights, setting up safety flares or tying a brightly colored cloth to your antenna or door handle. Then, get back into your vehicle and stay there.
  • Call 911 from your cell phone and report your location and your situation, including any physical or medical condition that you or a passenger may have.
  • Run your engine at 10-minute intervals to help generate heat, but keep a downwind window cracked. While this may seem counterintuitive in freezing weather, understand that fresh air can help keep you awake and alert, while too much heat means a risk of slipping into unconsciousness.
  • Periodically check your exhaust pipe to assure it remains free of slow. Otherwise, you risk carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Loosen tight clothing, change positions frequently and move your arms and legs to help keep your blood circulating.
  • If you find yourself stuck at night, turn on your dome light to help attract the attention of oncoming cars and rescuers – but only while your engine is running. Otherwise, you could run your battery down.
  • If you’re with other passengers or drivers stuck in the same location, take turns sleeping, assuring that at least one person is awake and keeping an eye out for rescue crews at all times.
  • Most importantly, stay calm. Stressing out can cause you to sweat. As a result, clothing gets wet and loses its insulating factor, making you more susceptible to hypothermia.

Have you been stranded in your vehicle in the snow? Post your stories, pics and tips on the E3 Spark Plugs Facebook Fan Page. And for all of you out there battling the white stuff, stay safe.

 ALSO READ: 10 Tips for Drivers Clueless About Icy Roads


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