Stuck in Snow: How to Live and Tell the Tale
That much snow falling all at once is a bad thing for a huge number of reasons, but that doesn't concern us here. The snow is enough to impair governments, close schools, disturb the demand and supply chain... Ever wondered why?
The reason is very simple: in our road-addicted world, the simple impairment of a city's roads is enough to bring it to a total halt. One of the most common causes for this impairment is, of course, snow.
Being stuck in a city, unable to move from your home to the local mall, however, is in a whole different ball park than being caught, alone, in the middle of nowhere, with just your car and a half full tank, by the mother of all blizzards.
You may go on and think: come on, we're living in the 21st century, we have cell phones, how can you get stuck in snow? Well, cell phones are terrible snow plows and, apart for helping you tell authorities or friends where exactly you are stuck, phones can do zero for your current situation.
On the other side, authorities and your friends may know were you are, but may have no way of reaching you in due time. So you, and your phone, are toast... (or frozen, to be precise).
ACKNOWLEDGING THE PROBLEM
Of course, as would any of us do, you will try to dig yourself out and throw into action all the winter-related gadgets you have at your disposal: shovels, sand, snow chains and so on. We will work on the assumption that all these efforts have failed and now you're completely stuck.
The second thing a normal human being would do in such a case is call for help. You should also do so and, using the cell phone we mentioned earlier, you should contact local emergency departments and let them know where you are stuck, for how long and, don't forget, how much fuel you have in your tank.
From here, there are basically two ways this is going to go down: either emergency services will be able to reach and save you shortly, or they will not. Whatever they will say, you should work on the assumption that you are going to be stuck for quite some time.
GETTING READY FOR A LONG, COLD NIGHT
It is important to stay with the car for several reasons, the most important one being that it is the only thing which can offer you shelter. Additionally, the car takes longer to get buried in the snow than you, so it will be much easier for rescue services to find the car than your frozen corpse.
Advice number two: put back in the car all the tools you unsuccessfully used to dig yourself out, as you might need them later. There's no way of knowing how long you are going to stay there and how much snow you will have to shovel when the weather clears. Losing those items in the snow will make life a living, white hell.
Advice number three: before getting into the car, go to the back of the vehicle and make sure the exhaust is clear and gas can escape freely. Remove any snow or ice from around the exhaust (you should do this at regular intervals, depending on how much is snowing).
If you don't, you may end up dead by means of deadly fumes. A blocked exhaust may also cause the engine to stall. And since your there, make sure to clean the headlights and the stoplights of any snow.
The measures to be taken come down to how much cold are you willing and able to withstand. Depending on this, experts advise you should only keep the car running for at most 15 minutes every hour. While the engine and heater are running, slightly open one of the windows of the car (preferably one in the back), so that fumes and excess heat can escape. Make sure to close it again when you shut down the engine.
Advice number five: make yourself visible. Try, at least when the engine is running, to keep the lights of your car on. Doing so will help others see you better and from a farther distance. Don't forget however to turn them back off when you shut down the engine. Otherwise, you may kill the battery and subsequently yourself.
Advice number five: stop yourself from leaving the car, apart for clearing the exhaust as mentioned above. Leaving the car is very dangerous especially during high winds and low visibility. Although unlikely, you may get locked on the outside or lose sight of the vehicle.
Even if the overwhelming need to go to the loo manifests itself, try and settle the matter locally. Depending on whether you are a man or a woman, there are several ways you can empty your bladder without leaving the car (look it up elsewhere). If your problem is of a more... consistent nature, leaving the car is the only option.
Advice number six: rationalize your supplies. Now, this is a bit tricky, as people don't make a habit of turning the car into a food storage area. If you have something to eat, don't eat it all at once and only eat when you feel really hungry, not because you are bored to death.
If, most likely, you will have nothing to eat, remember a human being can live for 30 to 40 days without food in extreme conditions (average adult male) and up to... 3 days without water (after that, it doesn't matter you're alive, your brain is a mess...).
We will work on the assumption you have nothing to eat and drink. Try to preserve as much energy as possible by avoiding making any effort. To preserve water, try as much as possible not to cry (especially ladies) and not to sweat too much.
HOW NOT TO GET STUCK
The easiest way not to get stuck is to stay... home. If, however, you really, really must drive out of town, make sure you car is properly equipped to handle the mountains of snow. Leave the city with the tank full, pack up some supplies, just in case, make sure the battery on your cell is also full and try to let others know what route you are taking. Before taking off, make sure to listen to the weather reports in your area and for the area you are traveling to. Take a copy of this guide with you...