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Just Ask Us: What should I do if my car gets stuck in snow?
JUST ASK US

Just Ask Us: What should I do if my car gets stuck in snow?

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Groundhog Day Blizzard 2011

Jesse Minor attempts to free his car, which became stuck in snow off West Washington Avenue during a blizzard in Feburary 2011. If you are stranded in a car during snowy conditions, turn on the hazard lights and an inside light to make the vehicle more easily visible to rescuers and run the engine and heater for only about 10 minutes each hour with a downwind window open slightly to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

Q: What should I do if my car gets stuck in

the snow?

A: With winter lurking in the not-too-distant future, knowing what to do if your vehicle gets stuck in snow can help keep you safe.

The first thing to do is assess the situation, says Liberty Towing Service dispatcher Aaron Valdovinof.

“First you have to make sure you’re safe, and you don’t have the potential to be hit by another vehicle,” Valdovinof said.

If it is safe to step out of the car, Valdovinof said, pouring cat litter on the ground near the tires can help a car get traction on icy surfaces. If there is a pile-up of snow, he said, the options are shoveling out the car or calling a towing service.

If you are driving during a snowstorm and must pull over or if you break down during snowy or extremely cold weather, the Department of Homeland Security has recommendations for what you should do.

If you are dressed appropriately for the weather and there is a visible location to call for help, seek assistance.

If your car is stranded and you must remain in the vehicle, turn on the hazard lights and an inside light to make the vehicle more easily visible to rescuers.

When stranded for long periods of time, run the engine and heater for only about 10 minutes each hour to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. When the car is running, you must also slightly open a downwind window to provide ventilation and check to make sure snow isn’t blocking the exhaust pipe.

DHS also suggests exercising to maintain body heat, and in extreme cold, use road maps, seat covers and floormats for insulation.

For more suggestions for winter weather, go to go.madison.com/weather.

— Shelley K. Mesch

Send questions to: justaskus@madison.com; Just Ask Us,

P.O. Box 805

8, Madison, WI 53708.

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