Cold Weather Survival in Your Car

According to the US National Center for Health Statistics, cold weather kills twice as many Americans every year as hot weather does.  Studies done in other countries have cold weather deaths as high as five times those of heat related deaths.  And these studies note that while extreme cold and heat raise the risk of death, more deaths actually occur during moderate weather.

Cold weather is deadly, and it doesn’t take a blizzard to do the job, it just takes prolonged exposure too cool temperatures, even temperatures as high as 50 degrees Fahrenheit can lead to death in as little as one hour if one is over exposed.

Protecting one’s self from the cold is particularly important when one leaves their home.  Even in a power outage and without a fireplace, we all have extra warm clothes and blankets at home.  When considering what to keep in your vehicle to protect yourself from cold in the event of an emergency, consider space.  You are going to be more likely to be tempted to remove it if it is taking up too much space.

Most of us already carry a cell phone on us, and as in any weather, if you are stranded because of an accident or just running out of fuel calling for help should be the first option.  But you might find
yourself out of service, with a dead battery and no charger, or in a blizzard the help might just not be able to get to you even if you are able to talk to them. Here are some options for protecting yourself from the cold if trapped in your vehicle:

Road Flares

Road flares are a great item to keep in your vehicle.  In a storm,they can be used to help prevent someone from crashing into your disabled vehicle because of lowered visibility, and if you are forced to leave your vehicle in cold weather they can be used to start a fire to keep
you warm.


Space blankets or foil blankets take up so little space you can keep several in most glove compartments.  Always consider that you want to keep as many as your car holds passengers if not more.

Hand Warmer Packets

Hand warmer packs are small enough to fit inside your pocket, and can be placed against your chest to keep your heart warm and reduce the risk of cardiac arrest, which is a leading cause of death associated with hypothermia.

Running the Engine

If you are stranded in your vehicle because of ice, or because you are stuck off of the road, you might want to run the engine to keep warm. This will only last as long as your fuel supply lasts, and one should never do this in heavy snow fall because of the risk of the snow piling up near the exhaust and forcing the exhaust back in to cab of the vehicle which will lead to carbon monoxide poisoning and death.

As always, preparation reduces risks, stay safe this year as we head into the cooler months.

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