What to do if you’re stranded in car in winter weather, snow

Hundreds of drivers were stranded Monday night in freezing temperatures after six trailers crashed on Interstate 95 in Virginia.

The Associated Press reported that the accident occurred on Monday afternoon and there were no injuries, but it caused traffic to stop. With the snow falling and accumulating, it became impossible for the vehicles to move.

This has left drivers trapped overnight, many without proper supplies, such as food, water and blankets, to keep food and warmth.

It may seem like a strange event, and you may think that you would never fall into a similar situation.

But North Carolinas may remember a similar incident in 2014, when snow fell rapidly across the Triangle, leaving drivers stuck in traffic for hours — some immortalized in a viral image.

This makes it important to keep you and your vehicle prepared for such an event.

Here are some tips on how to prepare, including what to keep in your emergency kit, as well as what to do if you find yourself stuck in an emergency situation.

What to keep in an emergency bag

Several drivers on I-95 on Monday reported not having enough food, water or a warm blanket to make it through the night comfortably. Presence emergency kit Having your car is an essential step to avoid a similar situation if you are stranded.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation recommends All cars have Basic Supply Kit It includes:

ice scraper

ice brush

Extra windshield wiper fluid

Extra antifreeze

Basic auto kit, including jumper cables and safety flares

NCDOT also recommends that you keep the following items in your vehicle In case they are stranded:


first aid bag

  • The National Safety Council recommends including gauze, duct tape, bandages, antibiotic ointment, aspirin, non-latex gloves, scissors, hydrocortisone, thermometer, forceps, and an immediate cold compress.


  • Winter weather gear, such as gloves, hats, and scarves, may also help keep you warm.


Sand, salt, or loose cat litter (to give your tires traction if they get stuck)

Non-perishable snacks

  • The National Safety Council recommends High Energy Snacks, such as unsalted nuts, dried fruits and Hard candy.

drinking water

The National Safety Council recommends the following additional items to your toolkit:

Properly inflated spare tire, wheel wrench and tripod jack

Extra batteries (for your flashlight or other electronics)

Reflective triangles and brightly colored canvas (to make your car more visible)


Reflective jacket (in case you need to walk to get help)

Car charger for your cell phone

Fire extinguisher

Adhesive tape

rain coat

if you own Pets And traveling with them, be sure to include them in your kit as well. It can include:

pet food

Excess drinking water

extra blankets

Handlebar, collar and belt

The National Safety Council also recommends keeping beds and Emergency phone numbers, including your auto insurance provider and towing company, in your phone.

What to do if you are stuck or stranded

If you’re stuck in snow or ice in North Carolina, try these tips from the NCDOT and NC Department of Public Safety for getting around a problem:

Call State Highway Patrol By calling *HP (*47) on your phone.

Don’t spin your wheels. Doing so will only deepen you. Instead, rotate the wheels from side to side to help clear the snow, then turn the steering wheel so the tires are as straight as possible.

Use a shovel Remember, you must keep one in your car’s emergency kit – to defrost in front and behind your tires. You should also remove the snow from the exhaust pipe To prevent the accumulation of carbon monoxide inside the car.

Spread non-clumping cat litter, sand or salt In the areas that have been cleared about your tires. This will help you gain momentum. Remember that you should keep at least one of these items in your emergency kit.

If you are not able to solve the problem using the above methods, you can try Shake your vehicle back and forth. Switch from front to back and back again, using a light touch on the throttle. Resist the temptation to spin your wheels. warning: Check your car owner’s manual first, as you may damage some vehicle transmissions with this strategy.

If you are unable to disassemble your car and think you may become one strandedUse these tips from The Weather Channel:

make sure that external exhaust on the car snow free To prevent the accumulation of carbon monoxide in the car.

Stay in your car. Don’t leave to look for help. You may become confused and lost in the snowfall and drift. If you see a building CloseIt may be safe to leave your car and take cover there.

Shut down your car. Turn it on every now and then to heat it up, but otherwise leave it closed to conserve gas.

  • It is important to make sure that you have at least one file Half gas tank Before driving in winter weather. This will help you run and warm up your car for longer.

Check the external exhaust every-time Turns on the heat to ensure no snow builds up.

Aside from using a blanket or warm clothing in your emergency kit, you can keep warm by doing just that small exercises. Try short sets of flaps or push-ups.

Stay hydrated. If you don’t have water in your emergency kit, or you run out, you can snow melt To be used as water.

Keep your seat belt and wear Hazard lights. Even if you stop, people can still hit you.

How to prepare your car for winter driving

Before you find yourself stuck in snow and ice, there are ways to prepare your car for winter weather.

Ready.gov, a national public service campaign, also recommends routinely checking the following features in your vehicle, that way you’re in good shape in an emergency:

Freezing levels

Battery and ignition system


exhaust system

Fuel and air filters

Heater & Defroster

Flashing lights and flashing hazard lights



Windshield wiper equipment and washer fluid level

And remember: Before going out in winter weather, always make sure you have at least one Half gas tank and tank full windshield wiper fluid. Even short trips can turn into long trips when storms hit, so you want to make sure you have enough gas to last your entire trip — including turning on the heat if you’re stranded.

Related stories from the Charlotte Observer

Corey Dean is a reporter on the News & Observer press team. She is a graduate of the University of North Carolina’s Haussmann School of Journalism and Media.


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