From dead batteries to winter weather emergencies, there are quite a few situations that could leave you stranded in your car in the cold. Whether it is a few minutes, or at worst, days, you will want to prepare for the situation accordingly.
Prepare Your Vehicle for Winter Weather
In general, winter can be harsh on vehicles. Keeping up with routine maintenance on your car can go a long way toward keeping you safe in a cold-weather situation.
1. Check Your Battery
One of the most common failure points in a vehicle is the battery. Have your battery checked routinely to make sure it has enough power to get through a harsh winter. Even a strong battery can also have some issues in the harsh winter temperatures.
2. Check the Antifreeze Levels
The radiator system is a critical component of the vehicle, so make sure the antifreeze is at a proper level.
3. Monitor Your Gas Tank Levels
In a situation where you have less than a half-full gas tank, precipitation can potentially get into your gas tank or line. If the moisture freezes, it can do major damage to your fuel system, so keep that tank full.
4. Pack an Emergency Kit
Having an emergency kit in your vehicle can be critical in a winter weather emergency. Consider building and storing a kit, just in case. Here are a few suggestions of things you can put into a kit:
Cell phone chargers
First aid kit
Bag of sand or cat litter
Extra layers of clothes (hats, coats, and gloves)
What to Do if You Are Stranded in Your Car for Hours
Even if you use a few of the tips above, there may be a situation where you are stuck in your vehicle for a prolonged period. You will now want to stay inside the car and use it as shelter from the cold as you wait for the situation to clear.
According to FEMA, you will only want to run your car for 10 minutes per hour to conserve fuel and battery life. So utilize a few of these tips to help keep you comfortable.
1. Layer Up
Remember that emergency kit you built? It's time to make use of that and put on those layers. The more you layer up both on your body and around you, the less heat you will lose.
2. Limit Heater Usage
While sitting idle in a car, you need to conserve energy. Lowering the heat to a minimum temperature will help limit the energy consumption. Also, keeping the blower level low helps as well.
3. Limit Accessories Usage
While the radio and other infotainment features on cars can be a nice feature, they can take up valuable resources in a situation where you are in your car for a long period. Turn off the radio and other infotainment features while you are stranded to conserve the battery.
4. Charge Your Cell Phone Intermittently
Cell phones are a critical tool to keep up and running in an emergency. If your battery is running low, you will want to charge your phone every time you turn on the car for heat. Rather than using your car's power to get your battery to 100%, just charge it enough to last until help arrives.
If you are using a smartphone, close unneeded applications and put the phone into low power mode. That will slow down battery usage. Lastly, keep an external phone charger in your car to limit the car battery drain.
Defensive Driving Can Prevent Many Winter Accidents
While sometimes vehicle failure is not avoidable, a course of defensive driving can help you prepare for many winter driving situations. Being prepared for situational driving can be a critical difference in being stranded for minutes or hours. Sign up for an I Drive Safely class today!