Wisconsin Department of Transportation

Alert: The following services will be unavailable on Saturday, January 5, 2013 from 12 a.m. (midnight) to 6 a.m. CST due to system maintenance.

In case you're stranded while driving in winter

  • Stay in your vehicle. Walking in a storm can be very dangerous. You can lose your way, wander out of reach, become exhausted, collapse and risk your life. Your vehicle itself is a good shelter.
  • Avoid overexertion. Attempting to push your car, trying to jack it into a new position or shoveling snow takes great effort in storm conditions. You could risk heart attack or other injury.
  • Calm down and think. The storm will end and you will be found. Don't work enough to get hot and sweaty. Wet clothing loses insulation quality making you more susceptible to the effects of hypothermia.
  • Keep fresh air in your vehicle. It is much better to be chilly or cold and awake than to become comfortably warm and slip into unconsciousness. Freezing-wet or wind-driven snow can plug your vehicle's exhaust system causing deadly carbon monoxide gas to enter your vehicle.
  • Don't run the engine unless you are certain the exhaust pipe is free of snow or other objects. Keep the radiator free from snow to prevent the engine from overheating.
  • Keep your blood circulating freely by loosening tight clothing, changing positions frequently and moving your arms and legs. Huddle close to one another. Rub your hands together or put them under your armpits or between your legs. Remove your shoes occasionally and rub your feet.
  • Don't expect to be comfortable. The challenge is to survive until you're found.

If you have access to a telephone, you should dial 911 to summon help. In other states you may be able to dial 911 or "0" to get the operator on the line. When you talk with authorities, be prepared to:

  • Describe the location, condition of your companions and the trouble you are experiencing.
  • Listen for questions.
  • Follow any instructions. You may be told you should stay where you are to guide rescuers or to return to the scene.
  • Do not hang up until you know who you have spoken with and what will happen next.

Questions about the content of this page:
Office of Public Affairs, opa.exec@dot.wi.gov
Last modified: January 31, 2013

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