Vehicle Preparation and Roadside Emergencies
Recommendations for vehicle preparation, emergencies, and precautions for hazardous weather
Reasons to be Prepared
- Snow, ice, water, can cause you to leave the roadway.
- 2014 Example15-flood (Nevada). Several portions of I-15 north of Moapa were ripped away by floodwaters that tore through Southern Nevada during a once-in-a-century storm, rendering several parts of the freeway impassable to traffic. People stuck and waiting for long period and then eventually re-routed, some of them about four-five hours out of their way.
- Fire on I-15 a few months ago (re-route all traffic through Hurricane and Laverkin
- Approx. ten years ago fire on I-15 near Cedar City that halted traffic for 3-4 hours
- Seems every year there is a brush fire – side of the road that halts traffic
- Possible earthquake damage
Back-Country Travel Precautions
- Avoid backcountry routes unless familiar with route and road conditions.
- If going to a remote area, let others know your route and expected return time.
Be prepared for extreme situations by carrying an emergency road kit with the following items:
- Cell phone; portable charger and extra batteries
- Windshield scraper
- Battery-powered radio, extra batteries
- Snack food and bottled water
- Warm clothes: Extra hats, coats, mittens, change of clothes
- Chains, rope, or tow strap
- Tire chains
- Spare gas
- Canned compressed air with sealant (emergency tire repair)
- Road salt, sand, or kitty litter
- Booster / jumper cables, or battery starter
- Bright colored flag or help signs, emergency distress flag, and/or emergency flares
- Lighter / Matches (waterproof matches and a can to melt snow for water)
- Basic first aid kit with any necessary medications and a pocket knife
- Hi-lift jack
- Spare tire with keys for locking lug nuts
- Spare keys
- Folding Shovel
- Tool kit
- Duct tape
- Trash bags
- Road maps, compass
- Towels, paper towels
If you find yourself in a situation where you may be stuck, stalled, or worse, follow these recommendations that could save your life in extreme conditions.
- Stay in your car
- Disorientation occurs quickly in wind-driven snow and cold.
- Run the motor about ten minutes each hour for heat.
- Open the window a little for fresh air to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Make sure the exhaust pipe is not blocked.
- Make yourself visible to rescuers.
- Turn on the dome light at night when running engine.
- Tie a colored cloth (preferably red) to your antenna or door.
- Raise the hood indicating trouble after snow stops falling.
- Exercise from time to time, by vigorously moving arms, legs, fingers and toes to keep blood circulating and to keep warm.
- Wear a hat, half your body heat loss can be from the head.
- Cover your mouth to protect your lungs from extreme cold.
- Mittens, snug at the wrist, are better than gloves.
- Loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing in several layers is best, trapped air insulates and layers can be removed to avoid perspiration and subsequent chills.
- Outer garments should be tightly woven, water repellent and hooded.
- Safely removing tires and upholstery from your vehicle and lighting them on fire in a cleared area will create smoke to facilitate your being located.
Car Safety Tips
- Keep your gas tank full in case of evacuation or power outages. A full tank will also keep the fuel line from freezing.
- Install good winter tires and make sure they have enough tread, or any chains or studs required in your local area.
- Do not drive through flooded areas. Six inches of water can cause a vehicle to lose control or possibly stall. A foot of water will float many cars.
- Be aware of areas where floodwaters have receded. Roads may have weakened and could collapse under the weight of a car.
- If a power line falls on your car you are at risk of electrical shock. Stay inside until a trained person removes the wire.
- If it becomes hard to control the car, pull over, stop the car and set the parking brake.
- If the emergency could affect the stability of the roadway avoid overpasses, bridges, power lines, signs and other hazards.
Sources: AAA, Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Center for Disease Control’s emergency winter weather checklist, U.S. Search and Rescue Task Force’s website