Getting Around in Utah
Winter Survival Tips
Part III - If You are Shut In
If you find yourself trapped in your car or stranded at your house during a blizzard, survival will depend on keeping
your wits about you and follwing these few steps where possible:
If Stuck in Your Car:
- Stay in the car. In most cases, it is more safe inside the car. Wait there
till you are discovered by someone. Here is where a cell phone can really come in handy.
- It is okay to leave the car to search for assistance only if you can see potential
help within 100 yards (a business, or house, or if you are on the highway, a rest area with a phone). If you
venture out of your car when the wind is blowing, you may become disoriented and lost and not be able to find your
- Display a trouble sign. You should have something brightly colored in your car
if you followed the rules in
Part I - Vehicle Preparedness. Hang it on the car's antenna and raise the hood.
If Stuck in Your House:
- Keep the faucets running at a drip to help prevent the pipes from freezing.
- Be especially careful about Wind Chill. This is a measurement of how cold it
feels when you combine the temperature ofthe air with the wind speed. 30 degrees with no wind could be a reasonably comfortable
temperature. 35 degress with a strong wind could be unbearable. A strong wind combined with a temperature of just below
freezing can have the same effect as a still air temperature about 35 degrees colder.
- Keep your wits about you! Don't panic.. Panicing can cause you to make silly
dicisions, not to mention putting an extra strain on your heart and using up valuable energy.
IF Stuck in Your Car:
- If more than one person is in the car, take turns sleeping. It is best to have one
person awake to be able to watch for signs of rescuers.
- Occasionally run the engine to keep warm. Try running the engine for about 10
minutes each hour. During that time, run the heater, and also give yourself a break from the dark by turning on the car's
- Be cautious about running the engine. You don't want to get carbon monoxide
poisoning, which could happen if the car is running for too long, and the exhaust is coming in (such as when you are
stuck in a snow bank and the exhaust can not ventilate properly. Keep the exhaust pipe clear of snow, and open a downwind
window slightly for ventilation.
- For added insulation, if your coat won't keep you warm enough, and you don't
have a spare blanket or sleeping bag in the car as suggested in
Part I - Vehicle Preparedness, you could try using newspapers, maps, and even the removable car mats.
If Stuck in Your House:
- If you are without power or heat, try some of the above mentioned ideas to keep warm.
- Do minor exercises to keep up circulation. If in the car, get out of the car
(if doing so is not a threat - ie the wind chill isn't a factor) and do a few jumping jacks. Or, if you can't get out,
clap your hands or move your arms and legs about to get some circulation going. Try not to stay in one position for too long.
- Avoid overexertion. Since cold weather puts an added strain on the heart, keep
your exercising (or shoveling or car pushing) at a reasonable level.
- Stay hydrated. If you don't have water in the car as suggested in
Part I - Vehicle Preparedness, try getting some
hydration from eating snow (but not too much since the cold snow will reduce your body temperature).
- Huddling together can also help you stay warm.