If you drive a vehicle or usually ride as a passenger, there’s a chance you could be stuck on the side of the road at some point.
And if it happens to be winter, or the nights get really cold where you live, getting stuck could become a life or death survival situation.
Hopefully, you’ll be able to call for help if this happens, but what if you can’t or if it takes a long time for help to arrive? You’ll need some way to stay alive while you wait, and that’s exactly what you’ll learn how to do in this post.
By the end of this post you’ll know how to survive being stranded in your car during winter.
The Big Problem: Heat vs. Gas
So, here’s the big problem in this situation: it’s winter, which means it’s cold…but you only have a limited amount of gas to keep your car warm with. That means you only have so much time before you’re without a heat source.
The first thing you need to know is how to be as efficient as possible with your remaining gas.
Don’t just leave your car on the whole time expecting to be rescued soon. You don’t know when, or if, help will arrive. So, it makes sense to ration gas carefully.
Here’s a proven way to make your car’s gas last longer while still giving you enough heat to not freeze. Turn your car on and run the heater at full blast for 10 minutes once every hour. It won’t be as comfortable as you’d like, but it’ll keep you alive.
However, you also need to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. The engine of your car gives off carbon monoxide in the exhaust, and if you stay in a running vehicle without moving, that gas builds up and could poison you.
Here’s an easy way to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Make sure your exhaust pipe is free from snow and any other debris. Your exhaust pipe is where carbon monoxide exits, and if it’s blocked, it’ll quickly build up in your car.
Some people also recommend cracking your window just a bit, but I think this is unnecessary. You’re only going to run the car for 10 minutes at a time, so it won’t be a problem if your exhaust is clear.
Plus, cracking the window open defeats the purpose of running the car for heat, wouldn’t you agree?
It’s your call, of course, but clearing the exhaust pipe should be enough if you don’t run the car for too long.
Flagging Down Help Without Wasting Power
You’ll also want a way for help to be able to find you more easily.
The first thing you should do is turn your hazard lights on, but using your hazard lights will drain your battery if your car isn’t running…and if your car is running, then you should turn it off to save gas like we just talked about.
There’s an easy way to flag down help that doesn’t require any gas or electricity from the car.
Create a makeshift flag with a bright piece of clothing, or even better, use reflective tape if you have some (get some if you don’t have some already…)
The piece of clothing or reflective tape can be tied to the radio antenna of your car or onto the windshield wipers after your flip them up.
This makeshift flag works almost as well as hazard lights but has the benefit of not draining your limited resources.
Insulating Your Car to Save Heat
If you’re committed to holding out overnight, then you’ll need to take even more extreme measures to survive. You’ll have to be even more efficient and get as much as you can out of your remaining gas.
A good way to do this is to insulate your car so it retains more heat.
Pretty much anything can work, whether it’s clothes, blankets, newspapers, magazines, or pages torn out of a book. Gather everything you can and stick them to the windows to add an extra layer of insulation between you and the outside.
If your car is properly insulated, you shouldn’t have to run the engine so long to keep it reasonably warm inside.
Being Prepared Ahead of Time
This survival advice can be applied using only stuff you have on hand, no special gear required. However, it’s always best to be prepared ahead of time with a few essentials.
That’s why I’m going to give you a small list of things you should keep in your car, just in case.
- An extra set of clothes
- Hand warmers
- Survival food
- Power bank
- Fire starter
There are a lot of other things that could be useful in this situation too, but these are the basics. For going beyond the basics, you might want to check out the Guardian Ultimate Auto Survival Kit.
The Guardian kit has many of the items just listed but also includes more specialized gear for this situation. It even comes with reflective tape.
I highly recommend you check it out here and always keep it in your car. It’s worth knowing you’ll be safe if you’re stranded in your car in the cold.