Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

Here’s a scary statistic- 1 out of every 7  licensed drivers are stranded on the side of the road annually, and approximately 30 Million drivers in the U.S. alone are rescued by AAA Roadside Assistance.

I reviewed two articles that I thought would help you decide, should you ever find yourself stranded in your vehicle during a winter storm, if you should stay with your vehicle and wait for Rescuers or if you should leave your vehicle to look for help.

Even though this article is geared toward winter storms, it can be applied to any survival situation if you find yourself stranded in your vehicle.

One of the articles was from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the other was from WikiHow.  Here are the highlights:

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) had 8 useful tips and advises to stay with your vehicle:

“Staying in your vehicle when stranded is often the safest choice if winter storms create poor visibility or if roadways are ice covered. These steps will increase your safety when stranded:
  1. Tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna as a signal to rescuers and raise the hood of the car (if it is not snowing).
  2. Move anything you need from the trunk into the passenger area.
  3. Wrap your entire body, including your head, in extra clothing, blankets, or newspapers.
  4. Stay awake. You will be less vulnerable to cold-related health problems.
  5. Run the motor (and heater) for about 10 minutes per hour, opening one window slightly to let in air. Make sure that snow is not blocking the exhaust pipe — this will reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  6. As you sit, keep moving your arms and legs to improve your circulation and stay warmer.
  7. Do not eat unmelted snow because it will lower your body temperature.
  8. Huddle with other people for warmth.”

WikiHow went into greater depth.  The full article can be found here and it is worth the read. How To Survive Being Trapped In Your Car During A Snow Storm.

Here are the highlights:

“…Surviving in your car during a snowstorm requires calm so you can make wise use of your car to meet your two fundamental needs – shelter for warmth and enough water to drink. Stocking up on additional supplies for this type of situation will help cover those needs and meet others, such as eating, staying dry and being able to leave once the storm clears.”

PART 1 of the article discuses basic preparation for emergencies.

  1. Know your surrounding and take winter warnings and alerts seriously. You should first and foremost not be out driving in severe weather.
  2. Keep your car serviced and in good running condition including tires and fluids.
  3. Have plenty of gas.  It will be needed to keep the car running to keep you warm, make sure your fuel lines don’t freeze, to make sure your battery stays working and to have enough left over to get out of danger.
  4. Buy a cooler and a storage tub for you basic emergency needs and to make sure your supplies stay waterproofed.
  5. Prepare an emergency kit of items that will keep you warm and alive.
  6. Preparing for your water needs.
  7. Preparing for your survival food needs.
  8. Preparing a vehicle survival list (flares, radio, jumper cables, kitty litter etc.)

PART 2 of the article is the meat and potatoes and discusses “How To.”

  1. Watch your weather
  2. Unclog snow from the vehicle exhaust pipe to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
  3. Remove snow and ice from around your vehicle.
  4. Instructions on how to “rock and roll” your vehicle to get it unstuck.
  5. If a snowstorm is just beginning and you are stuck, do what you can to escape as early as you can.
  6. Stay with your vehicle (with some exceptions).
  7. How to notify authorities with your cell phone.
  8. How to make sure Rescuers can see you.
  9. Clear your exhaust pipe regularly.
  10. How to use your gas sparingly.
  11. How to use energy wisely, from the gas to the batteries in the flashlight.
  12. How to stay warm
  13. How to block off unused space and cover windows (beside what is mentioned in the article, newspapers, the best is the use of emergency mylar survival blankets, which are cheap and take up little space in your kit, for warmth and to duct tape to your inside windows).
  14. If you are with someone, huddle together for body heat.
  15. Keep moving your hands, feet and body for circulation and warmth.
  16. How to ration food and water supplies.
  17. Best way to melt snow to make water.
  18. How to store your water properly.
  19. How to find food.
  20. Assessing your options when the storm passes.  Should I stay or should I go?

My one comment on the two articles…..

is that neither of the articles has in the fore front one of the Boy Scouts and Girls Scouts Golden Survival Rules: “Always tell someone where you are going and when you think you will return.”

The biggest assumption both articles make is that you are well and uninjured.  What if you were not? What if you are unconscious? What if your phone doesn’t work? The WikiHow article briefly mentions it in Part 2, but it should be one of the first items you should read, it is that important.

Even if you leave a note in your house with this information, someone will find it.

There are a few apps you can use to do this as well, BUGLE and KITESTRING.  I am sure there are many others. Just find one you are comfortable with that works with your privacy level as location based apps can invade your privacy.

I would also like to mention that on Itunes or Google Play Store, you can download the “WikiHow: How To Do Anything” app.  It really is an amazing app.  Just type in “How to Survive,” “Survive,” or “Survival Kit,” and all kinds of survival situations and tips will come up.

You do need the internet to look up questions, so do this before you are in an actual emergency.  You wouldn’t want to be looking up “How to Survive a Bear Attack” while it’s happening.

If you do find a subject you want to keep for later on your phone, such as “How To Survive a Winter Storm” or “How to Survive In The Desert,” in the upper right corner of the article next to the search icon, click on the three dots menu.  There you will see a selection “bookmark and save off line.” Choose this and it will download that how to article on to your phone.

If you must download an app without an internet connection, WikiHow even has that answer.

WikiHow is a great resource and if you can, give them a few dollars.  You can donate right on the app, upper left corner menu, “Contribute.”

As an example on the subject of courage, survival, tragedy, and being forced to make the difficult decision of staying or leaving your vehicle if you are stranded under severe conditions, I would like to share the story of James and Kati Kim.  I wonder if I would have made the same decision that James did.  Even knowing what I know, I still wonder.

James and Kati Kim

At the end of the article, it leaves you hanging and it doesn’t finish the story.  What happened to James?  I searched the internet and found the ending of the story, along with a map of his journey when he left his family behind.

Stranded Father’s Heroic Last Hours

If you would like to purchase the 20/20 story on the Kim’s, you can check it out on Amazon.

On the subject of vehicle survival supplies, Here are a few products to check out on Survival Frog.

The Tact Bivvy by Survival Frog can be a life saver and it fits in the palm of your hand (re-useable too).



Two Person All Inclusive Emergency Vehicle Survival Kit by Survival Frog




(I am an affiliate for Survival Frog, I do make a small commission if you purchase through these links. The price is the same if you purchase through the links or not, and thank you!)

Photo Courtesy of Jason Blackeye at

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