With many cities in the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast and Midwest getting buried in snow this week, now might be a good time to remind fleet drivers of what steps to take if they ever become stranded in cold weather. Here is some advice found in the Minnesota Driver's Manual.
If you become stranded while traveling in cold weather, stay with your vehicle. Most deaths under these circumstances occur when people get out of their vehicles, become lost, and suffer prolonged exposure to the cold.
Stay calm, wait for help to arrive, and take as many of the following steps as possible:
- Turn on your hazard warning lights.
- Attach a red flag to your radio antenna.
- Set out flags and flares, if possible.
- If clothing, blankets and other survival supplies are stored in the trunk, bring them inside the vehicle.
- Keep the exhaust pipe clear of snow and debris.
- Run the engine and heater until the vehicle is reasonably warm, and then turn it off. Repeat this process as long as fuel is available, or until you are rescued. Running the engine for approximately 10 minutes each hour, in order to charge the battery and warm the interior, is recommended.
- Even in extremely cold temperatures, leave at least one window partially open to let in fresh air. Occupants of an idling vehicle can suffer carbon monoxide poisoning if ventilation is not adequate.
- At least one person in the vehicle should remain awake at all times.