Camping & Survival

30 Days of Preparing for Severe Winter Weather Day 21: 10 Safety Rules for Spending a Night in Your Car

Picture shows a highway sign covered in snow.

Depending on where you are, running off the road may be as simple as getting traction to get back on, or as bad as being so stuck that you need rescued. A whiteout or blizzard can make driving conditions so hazardous that you voluntarily pull over to wait out the storm. The first thing you need to do is call for help if you find yourself trapped on the road during severe winter weather. Until help arrives, you will need to focus on staying safe, hydrated and warm. Pull your emergency vehicle kit out of the trunk or back seat and follow these 10 rules.

Picture shows a highway sign covered in snow.
Our 10 tips help you survive a night in the car.
  1. Turn on your hazard lights and if or when it gets dark, your interior light. This is so rescuers and other motorists can see you.
  2. Tie a brightly colored bandana, cloth or a distress flag to your antenna.
  3. Stay in the car. Do not wonder for help.
  4. Run the heater for 10 minutes every hour with a window cracked to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
  5. Periodically check the exhaust pipe for snow build up. Remove it with your shovel or trowel.
  6. Keep shelf-stable snacks and energy bars in a cooler.
  7. Stretch and move your legs and arms periodically to keep blood circulating.
  8. Stay warm. Cover up in layers and blankets. If you do not have a blanket, you can use floor mats or cut up the seat covers.
  9. Drink water. Individual small bottles of water are easier to thaw than large gallons if water has frozen.
  10. Sleep in shifts if there are other people in the car with you.

Have you ever been stuck roadside during severe winter weather? Tell us your story in the comment section.

Tomorrow, I lighten the mood a bit and let you take a break from prepping. Come back tomorrow for Day 22 where I will share my favorite hot chocolate recipe made from long-term food storage items.


The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (3)

  1. I think I might “wonder” about rescue (see #3), but I probably shouldn’t WANDER around outside my vehicle.

    In my car kit I carry a 50 foot piece of rope. The way to stay safe if you do need to exit your vehicle in whiteout conditions is to tie one end of the rope securely around the steering wheel, then tie the other end securely around your waist BEFORE exiting your vehicle. That way even if you lose your bearings in whiteout, you can follow the rope back to your vehicle.

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