On October 2 we had the largest snowfall over 24 hours in recorded history, 60 cm/23.6 inches fell in Canmore and surrounding areas (RM Outlook).
This year the snow came very early in the season. As a result of the large amount of snow falling on the TransCanada Highway and multiple accidents many people were stuck in their cars for an extended period of time. Some for up to 15 hours and they ran out of gas. It has been coined (locally) as SnowCarMageddon!
If this happened to you, would you be prepared? Would you know what to do to stay safe?
Here are some safety tips to ensure you are safe and warm during an extended stay in a winter situation.
Have an emergency kit in your vehicle.
You can make one up and stow it in the trunk or you can buy one. Top Gear 1017 Deluxe Winter Roadside Assistance Kit(89-piece) has almost everything you would need in a compact bag. Includes: Case, reflective safety vest, Eco traction to get your vehicle off snow and ice, ice scraper, hand warmer, candles/matches set, a hand charged LED flashlight (no batteries required), a pair of gloves, emergency survival wrap, rain and reflective emergency poncho, batter booster cables, reflective warning triangle, first aid kit, lightsticks, a multi-tool, zip ties, pvc tape, shop towel, duct tape, tire pressure gauge and whistle and a car care guide with safety information. You can get this on Amazon for under $60.
Additions to your safety kit.
The above addressed warmth and safety but one of the things people in their cars this week struggled with was hunger and thirst.
You can add a 12V Immersion Water Heater that plugs into your car $10 - $30 on amazon or an Electric 12V Car Kettle drinking cup.
Add an unbreakable metal mug is a must. If your car battery dies you can still heat water over your emergency candles.
Purchase and leave in your kit some instant food packages and drinks such as cup of soup, tea, noodles or other items like protein bars and chocolate that you can find at your local grocery store.
Put a few bottles of water into your kit or use snow or rain to heat in your mug.
Do not forget a roll of toilet paper, tissues or wet wipes. If you cannot find a bush to go behind you can always use your poncho or emergency blanket as a shield from the elements or onlookers.
For extra comfort carry a sleeping bag, extra clothes, socks as well as a hat and mitts.
Add some entertainment such as books, cards or mind games into your kit and you are ready to go.
Tips to remain safe and warm
Call for help. If you do not have a cell phone, waive someone down. If there are no other cars around stay in your car unless you see shelter nearby.
Always ensure that while you are in the car with it running to warm up that the exhaust is free and clear of snow. If your exhaust has gotten plugged you could get a carbon monoxide buildup in the car. Crack your window a bit while the car is running, just in case.
Keep the car off until you are cold and then check the tailpipe before you turn it back on to get some heat. It is suggested that 1 hour off and 10 minutes on will get you through. Only use your 12 v accessories (such as your immersion heater) while the car is running. This way you won’t run down your battery.
Stay hydrated. If you don’t have water melt snow or catch rain in your emergency blanket and put it in your mug to drink or warm for soup. Do your best not to eat snow, it can reduce your body temperature and you will get cold faster.
Put your roadside flares or triangle out so oncoming vehicles can see there is something ahead.
Keep your seatbelt on and engage your hazard lights. It may be uncomfortable to remain locked in but someone could come up behind and hit your vehicle.
Remove your seatbelt every now and then and do some exercises to keep your circulation moving and your body warm. Clap your hands, stomp your feet, move your arms and legs. Do not let your muscles stiffen up.
If there are other people in the car with you snuggle up to use body heat for warmth and entertain each other with stories, jokes or games.
Try to have fun and keep your spirits up.
Be Prepared! Be Safe!
Photo by Jonathan Knepper on Unsplash