Jingle Bells, Deck the Halls, Happy New Year and Auld Lang Syne – will you and your family be there to celebrate this holiday season (or anytime during treacherous winter months) if you get stranded on icy roads, miles from help, with no food or water or extra outerware to protect you?
In our multi-part series, Family Car Guide has put together some winter breakdown survival tips that just may mean the difference between happy holidays and tragedy. Here is a wrapup of the tips. For more complete information, click on the links for each day’s segment.
Watch the Weather
Just because you’ve driven the same route a hundred times doesn’t mean that you can take the chance on road conditions when temperatures dip precipitously below freezing. Even if you’re taking the freeway route, you risk becoming stranded – along with hundreds of other drivers – should a sudden blizzard occur. It’s not out of the question. All it takes is the right combination of factors for light flurries to escalate into a hazardous snow dump.
Read more watching the weather precautions in Family Car Guide Survival Tips for a Winter Breakdown.
Let Others Know Your Destination
Going on a road trip to visit relatives during the winter months, especially around Christmas, is something that many Americans plan to do this year. But too many families pack up and take off without letting others know their route of travel, when they’re leaving, and when they expect to arrive. That’s a mistake.
Take and Use Maps
Of course, traffic and other situations affecting roads (closures due to everything from a Presidential motorcade to police involved in a high-speed pursuit) can affect your travel route. Or, maybe you encounter a road that’s impassable due to mudslide, rockslide or snow. Don’t just automatically rely on your vehicle’s GPS or navigation system. That’s asking for trouble.
See more on these two items in Survival Tips for a Winter Breakdown: Get Out the Map.
winter driving - by flickr user Hey PaulEnlarge Photo
Pack a Survival Kit
Every car should have a survival kit – to keep in the vehicle at all times.
Don’t Become Over-Confident with Four-Wheel Drive
Just because your vehicle has four-wheel drive – or all-wheel drive – doesn’t mean that you can safely navigate extreme blizzard conditions, icy sleet or deep snow.
Find out what to include in your car survival kit and some thoughts about being over-confident in your vehicle’s four-wheel drive in Survival Tips for a Winter Breakdown, Prepare for the Worst.
Stay in the Vehicle
More people die after becoming stranded in a wintertime situation because they leave their vehicle than if they just stayed put. Survival experts recommend that everyone in the party remain inside the vehicle until help arrives. You’ll have heat and be protected from the elements.
Contact Help – if Possible
It goes without saying that if you have cell phone reception, call 911 and give your location – as near as you can.
Other Survival Tips
As the hours go by with no rescue, it’s easy for panic to set in. Try to remain calm.
For more in-depth information on these last three items, read this series’ final instalment Survival Tips for a Winter Breakdown: Stay Warm, Stay in the Car.
Bottom line: Be safe, not sorry, this holiday season – and all through the unpredictable winter months when you’re driving. With a little precaution and some common sense you and your family can survive a winter breakdown on the road – or off it.