How to Survive in Your Vehicle when you are Stranded

by Scott McGee

Chances are you will never become stranded in your vehicle for an extended period of time. That doesn’t mean, however, that you shouldn’t be prepared in case this situation does actually occur. You should have several supplies readily available in your vehicle, and you should be aware of several precautions to take in case you do become stranded due to inclement weather or some other variable.

There are several different items that you should always keep in your car in case of an emergency. These include the following: blankets, cell phone, jumper cables, shovel, cat litter or sand, road maps, ice scraper, high calorie canned food, dried food, can opener, bottled water, extra cups, compass, tools, flashlight, extra batteries, brightly colored cloth, extra clothing, matches, lighter, candles, coffee cans, toilet paper, and several bottles of rubbing alcohol.

You can use the sand or cat litter to help your tires find traction if you are stuck in snow or mud. High calorie food helps provide you the extra energy you may need to survive. If you are stuck in a snow storm, you can melt snow in the cups for extra liquid once your bottled water supply has been depleted. Do not eat snow that hasn’t been melted, though, because it will lower your body temperature.

Lighted candles in a coffee can have been commonly used as mini heaters. An even better heater, however, can be constructed from a coffee can, roll of toilet paper, and a bottle of rubbing alcohol. You will need to compress the toilet paper roll several times with your hands, and then remove the cardboard center of the roll. You will then place the toilet paper into the can and pour a bottle of the alcohol over the toilet paper. You are now ready to light your heater. Your heater should last for several hours. Once the alcohol has dissipated, you can add another bottle over the toilet paper. You should not have to change the toilet paper, however.

It is important to remember that you can be overcome by carbon monoxide poisoning if you do not have enough ventilation in your vehicle. Whether you are running your vehicle at intermittent times or burning one of the coffee can heaters, you still need to crack at least one of your windows for fresh air. You should only run your vehicle for no more than ten minutes every hour. You also need to make sure the exhaust pipe of your vehicle is free of snow or mud.

If you do become stranded, one of the first steps you should take is to place a colorful cloth on the highest point of your vehicle. Hopefully, this will attract someone’s attention and alert them to the fact that you are in trouble. You can also raise the hood of your vehicle to signal distress. Unless you can clearly see a house, store or other occupied building and can reach it easily, you need to stay in your vehicle. If you are lucky enough to have reception on your cell phone, you will need to give directions as precisely as possible. You can look for distinctive landmarks, even if you are confused about the road you are on.

The key to survival in cold weather is to stay as warm as possible. Layer your clothing, and use your extra blankets. If there are others in the car with you, you should cuddle together to raise your body heat temperatures. It is very important to keep your hands and feet as warm and dry as possible to prevent frostbite. You want to move around as much as possible within your vehicle to encourage blood circulation. You can stomp your feet and clap your hands. You do want to avoid over exerting yourself, however. Cold temperatures can stress your heart. It is also very important to remain as calm as possible. If you use common sense and keep your car supplied for emergencies. You can survive being stranded.