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How to Dig Yourself Out of a Snowstorm or Ditch

No one likes to get stuck in their car. Here are a few tips to dig yourself out when you're alone.
Make sure you have the right tools at your disposal in case you find yourself needing to dig out of a snowstorm. Credit: Pixabay.

When you have to go out after a huge snowstorm, there is always a chance of getting stuck. Slick road conditions can lead to skidding into a snowbank or ditch. It is helpful to keep certain things in your vehicle to dig yourself out or stay safe until help arrives. Be sure to always have an emergency kit in your vehicle that includes a flashlight, phone charging bank, high protein snacks, water and a blanket. If you are stuck for a long time, you will be thankful you have these things.

Items to Keep in Your Car and How to Use Them

  • Shovel.  Clear all the snow away from your tires and the sides of your vehicle.
  • Kitty litter or sand. Sprinkle it around and as far under your tires as possible. This will help you gain traction.
  • Snacks. They will keep you from going hungry and keep you warmer as your body digests. Always have water on hand as well. Use a thermos to keep it from freezing.
  • Blanket. On a cold winter day, when you can't get unstuck, you will be happy to have an extra layer to keep you warm. Also consider keeping an extra set of clothes in your car.
  • Gloves and a warm hat. They will come in handy when shovelling or waiting for help.
  • Flashlight. If it is dark, or you have to wait a long time, a flashlight will come in handy. Keep extra batteries in your kit.
  • Flares or cones. These help warn drivers that you are on the side of the road and increase visibility during snowstorms.

Tips for Getting Unstuck

  • Turn off traction control. Traction control is designed to keep your wheels from slipping and spinning on icy or wet surfaces. This will activate when you are trying to get unstuck.
  • Rocking. If your vehicle had moved even a little, you may be able to use this technique to get out successfully.  Reverse a little, stop, go forward a little, stop. Repeat until you gain momentum and your car is unstuck.
  • Shovel around the car (if safe). If you are stuck in a pile of snow and it's safe to get out of your vehicle, shovel around the tires and to ground level so there is no snow touching the car.
  • Kitty litter or sand around tires. Sprinkles around tires to help gain traction. Cardboard or floor mats can work too. Slide them under your tires as far as you can.
  • Keep the wheels straight. When trying to get out of a snowy or muddy situation, keep your wheels straight. They will gain more traction in this position.
  • Stay calm. Don't panic when you realize you are stuck. This can cause you to do actions that make it worse, such as going full throttle on the gas. Too much wheel spin will dig you in deeper.

No one likes getting stuck, but if it happens, you want to be prepared. Having an emergency kit and a snow shovel in your car can save yourself or another stuck person. Be sure your car is maintained and has weather appropriate tires. While these things can't prevent you from getting stuck, they can improve your chances of getting out.

CPC-logoThis story was made possible by our Community Partners Program. Thank you Davis Chevrolet for helping to expand local news coverage in Alberta. Learn more
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