Posted in on January 26, 2010

How to Survive Being Stranded in Your Car During a Colorado Snowstorm

Many of us living in Denver don’t think we’ll ever be stranded in our cars during a snowstorm. We’re in the big city, it’s not like were on some deserted country road. Even if we do get stuck we wouldn’t have far to walk for shelter, right? I’ve got my cell phone and On-Star, I won’t be stuck long.

Having lived most of my life in Colorado, I’ve hit a patch of ice and lost control of my car and slid off the road a time or two. Fortunately, a Good Samaritan helped me out and my time stuck out in the blizzard was minimal. But what if my timing isn’t so good the next time? What if I’m on my way back from the mountains and I get stuck – as we all know, cell phone coverage in the mountains can be unreliable.

Most people don’t realize that you can get hypothermia even when the temperature is not below freezing and is usually caused by prolonged exposure to cold temperatures. Hypothermia can be fatal and if not treated promptly, lethargy, cardiac arrest, shock, and coma can set in.
Hypothermia symptoms include:
– Uncontrollable shivering – although, at extremely low body temperatures, shivering may stop
– Weakness and loss of coordination
– Confusion
– Pale and cold skin
– Drowsiness – especially in more severe stages
– Slowed breathing or heart rate

In the unlikely event that you are trapped in your car during one of our Colorado snowstorms it is best that you are prepared with a Winter Survival Kit to get you through the storm with nothing worse than a great story to tell your friends and family.
You can buy winter survival kits or you can make your own.
What to put in your winter survival kit:
– Duffle Bag
– High Calorie Foods (candy bars, granola bars, nuts, power bars, etc.)
– Bottled Water
– First Aid Kit
– Flashlight and Extra Batteries (put in Ziploc bag to keep dry)
– Flares (put in Ziploc bag to keep dry)
– Matches and/or Bic lighters (put in a Ziploc bag to keep dry)
– A Candle (to help keep the interior of your car warm. I carry one made in a glass jar that has a lid)
– Warm Blanket(s)
– Large Plastic Trash Bags (or reflective safety blankets – these can help you stay warm and dry)
– Extra warm clothing (sweaters, long pants, etc. – layering can help you stay warm)
– Pet Food (if your pet travels with you)

You can easily make these kits for all drivers in your family. Every spring I take out the perishables and every winter I check the flashlight, batteries, etc. and replenish the food items and bottled water.

I keep this duffle bag in my car year round, and oddly enough, you’ll be surprised at how often you’ll use something from this kit, even when you’re not stranded in a blizzard.

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