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Staying Warm When Your Automobile Leaves You Stranded


Knowing what to do during dangerous temperatures can save your life

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources is reminding motorists who will be driving during severe winter weather to be aware of tips to stay safe in the event their automobile leaves them stranded for a period of time in freezing temperatures. 


“We never expect to encounter automobile problems when we leave our homes to go to work, to the grocery store, or even to a doctor’s appointment,” said Dr. Letitia Tierney, State Health Officer and Commissioner for the Bureau for Public Health.  “But far too often, things just happen and we can become stranded. We need to be prepared and know what we can do until help arrives.  This information can help save your life and prevent injuries.” 


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the following tips to help you stay safe in the event that you become stranded in your automobile during the winter:


•  Tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna as a signal to rescuers.

•  Move anything you need from the trunk into the passenger area.

•  Wrap your entire body, including your head, in extra clothing, blankets, or newspapers.

•  Stay awake. You will be less vulnerable to cold-related health problems.

•  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.

•  As you sit, keep moving your arms and legs to improve your circulation and stay warmer.

•  Do not eat unmelted snow because it will lower your body temperature.


Before heading out in your automobile, take a few moments to prepare for potential problems before they occur.  Make sure you have plenty of gasoline in your automobile.  Wear a hat, scarf or knit mask, mittens or gloves, water-resistant coat and shoes, and several layers of loose-fitting clothing.  If possible, bring a fully charged cellular phone with you.  Always tell someone where you are going and if you do not arrive by a specified time, then they will know that something may be wrong. 

Contact Information

Toby Wagoner, PIO
Department of Health and Human Resources Logo
Center for Threat Preparedness | 505 Capitol Street, Suite 200, Charleston, WV 25301 | Ph: 304.558.6900 | Fx: 304.558.0464
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