How to Survive in a Car Submerged in Snow

There are many disaster scenarios to consider while driving a car, and this is one of them. In the winter, there is a small but sufficient chance of careening off the road and becoming trapped in snow. Although the situation may seem grim, with the right choices and moves, you can survive.


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    Examine the damage. If you are traveling with passengers, make sure that no one is injured. There are bound to be a few anxious people, and try to do your best to calm everyone down. Explain that it is a common situation, and that you will figure out a way to escape the car.
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    Try to get out. Obviously, getting out of a car submerged in snow is not the simplest of tasks. Before you even begin to make your escape, view the circumstances. Are you entirely submerged, or is the hood of the car over the snow? Can you see outside? Is your car right-side up? These are the first questions you should ask yourself before attempting any sort of plan.
    • If you can see outside, and you are positive that the car is nowhere near halfway submerged, turn on the engine. Let the wheels spin for about ten seconds. If the car is not moving, stop turning the wheels. This will create a bowl of ice that is shaped like a tire, which will make it nearly impossible to escape.[1]
    • Estimate how submerged you are. If you are more than three feet under snow; which is unlikely; digging your way out is not a plan that will have a high chance of working. If you are a very short distance from the surface, try digging out. Be extremely careful while digging, as the tunnel can easily cave in and suffocate you. If the door of your car does not open easily, do not try to force it open. It could possibly spill a load of snow into the car, which will do more bad than good.
    • Try rocking the car back and forth. With the engine on, switch back and forth between reverse and forward along with moving around the vehicle to keep it moving. As soon as the vehicle shifts, switch the engine to forward and try to drive out. If this doesn't work for twenty minutes, stop and turn off the engine. This will do better with a group, and not a single person.[2]
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    Look for a cellphone. Passengers in the car will most likely have a cellphone with them. Call a car towing company, or someone who can help you. If you have trouble getting service, try pressing the antenna of the phone against the radio while it is playing. Most cellphones will follow the radio's path of service and will get a few bars.[citation needed] Make sure that you give an extremely detailed description of where you are. You will not be clearly visible if you are submerged, and they may drive right past you. Be careful who you call if the phone battery is depleted.
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    Turn off the engine. In most cases, this is the last thing anyone wants to do in a situation like this. Most people think that the engine is the only thing keeping them alive in the freezing temperatures. However, if the tailpipe is covered in snow, the engine shouldn't be on for more than fifteen minutes for every hour.[citation needed] If the engine runs while the tailpipe is submerged, Carbon Monoxide; a poisonous, odorless gas; will escape back up the tailpipe and will gather in the vehicle. Signs of present Carbon Monoxide are drowsiness, dizziness, and headaches. If these symptoms begin occurring to you or anyone in the vehicle, turn off the engine immediately.
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    Ration any available food and drink. Even something as simple as restaurant mints or crumbs in between seat cushions can keep a person alive. If there are multiple people in the vehicle, share all food. If you end up dying, you wouldn't want people to think 'that was the selfish dude who wouldn't share any of the granola bar'. Kindness can help you later on. If you have bottled water, drink or empty out about one fourth of it. Because ice takes up more space than water, the bottle may expand until it breaks. This will leave you without any water at all. If no water is available, eating snow is also a choice. Although eating snow is an option, it is less favoured. The snow will lower your body temperature. Snow can be melted using a can and a match, but boiling it for one minute may not rid it of germs sometimes found in snow.
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    Don't try to escape if it is not simple. Officers recommend that people remain in the car if no easy escape is available, or if help isn't within one hundred yards.[citation needed] Do not try to navigate unless you are wet and the car engine isn't starting. At this point, your wet clothes will most likely freeze, and you will be risking hypothermia and freezing to death.
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    Try to get the attention of anyone passing by. Even something as simple as waving an open umbrella can get someone's attention.[3] If your headlights are not covered in snow, flash them at anyone passing by to signal for help.[4]
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    Maintain sanity. After a few days in a stuck car, you may begin to lose common sense. Do anything you can to keep your mind sharp and aware; i.e., read a book/the car's manual, keep track of the days you've been stuck, do an old Sudoku puzzle, etc. These things will help you remain sane and will help the days past by easier.
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    Be reasonable. After many days in the car, you will most likely not have a high chance of surviving. It's a little depressing, but if you have a writing utensil and some spare paper, you may want to write goodbye notes to friends and family. This will help you occupy your time, even though you probably won't need to worry about your friends reading them.


  • You should keep a safety kit as a precaution in winter in case of a car emergency with things such as;

      • Dry fruit


  • If anyone in the car suffers symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, turn off the engine and check the tailpipe.
  • Always make sure that the tailpipe is not blocked by anything before starting the engine.
  • Do not try to find help if it isn't close or available, and if the exit is not clearly available, do not try to escape the car unless you are extremely exhausted and/or wet.

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