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Getting Around in Utah

Winter Survival Tips
Part III - If You are Shut In

Related Resources
Part I - Vehicle Preparedness
Part II - Winter Driving
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:

Stay Safe

    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 car again.

    • 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.

    In General:

    • 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.

Stay Warm

    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 dome light.

    • 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.

    In General:

    • 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.

Backroads of Utah
by Theresa A. Husarik

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