There are a lot of reasons you could become stranded on the road – running out of gas, a dead battery, a flat tire, getting stuck in the mud or snow, bad weather, losing your keys or mechanical failures to name a few.
If you do get stranded remember to stay calm, use your head and you’ll be fine. Rule of thumb – stay in your car and call for help.
Here are some tips on what to do in different circumstances:
If You’re Standed on an Interstate or Highway:
- Try to pull off to the shoulder or completely off the road.
- Use your cell phone to call the police or your vehicle’s roadside assistance and tell them you’re stranded.
- If it is nice out and traffic is light enough that you can safely exit the vehicle, get out and raise your hood and tie your emergency flag to a radio antenna or door handle (or hang it out the window). Put on your flashers and wait until help arrives. Some say you should wait outside and away from the car in case another vehicle strikes your car. I’m not so sure about that rule but I guess it depends on the situation.
- If you can’t get cell coverage, or you have no phone, assess whether to walk for help. There might be an emergency phone down the road or a gas station within walking distance but use extreme caution if walking near a busy roadway. Don’t attempt to cross a busy, multi-lane highway. If help is far away or the road is too busy, you should stay near your car.
- Don’t risk your life to change your tire on a busy road. You’re better off ruining your tire and rim driving to a nearby gas station.
If You’re Stranded in a Blizzard
- Stay inside your car so you don’t get lost or frostbitten.
- Put on your emergency hazard lights, call for help and wait until it arrives. If you can’t get cell service, you’ll most likely get help from a police officer patrolling the area.
- Put your emergency flag out on the antenna or window, or a bright colored piece of cloth.
- Run your heater for about 10 minutes per hour or every half hour if it is really, really cold.
- Remove the snow from your tailpipe occasionaly to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning and crack a window if you have an old rusty car with a leaky exhaust system. It’s a good idea to keep one window cracked open anyway, so the freezing wind and wet snow don’t seal the vehicle.
- Clear heater vents – the grill under the windshield.
- Try not to sleep if the engine is running and you are alone.
- Move around every once in a while to keep the circulation going.
- To avoid frostbite, keep your skin covered when you get out of the car to clear the tailpipe and vents.
- Use emergency supplies and cell phone batteries conservatively.
- When the storm passes, write “HELP” in large letters in the snow outside your car.
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If You’re Stranded in a Flood:
- Stay in your car (unless it is sinking) and wait for help.
- Open your car windows in case you need to climb out.
- Use your cell phone to call for help, turn on your hazard lights and hang a cloth or emergency flag out the window.
- If you have to get out of your car because it is sinking and the area is flooded, swim to a tree or something sturdy that you can hold onto.