We’ve talked extensively about how to properly operate a large Class 8 commercial motor vehicle in winter weather, but what about situations where you are trapped in wintry weather due to hazards or road closures? If you run into impassable conditions and cannot make your way back, what do you do? Would you be equipped to stay safe if the weather presents a significant challenge? Here are the tips you need to know to stay alive when the worst happens during frigid temperatures.
Monitor Your Fuel Tanks
When it comes to freezing weather, your engine may be your only reliable source of heat. When you need to keep the engine running to provide yourself heat when you are stuck, you’ve got to have enough fuel to last. When your fuel tank is less than half full, the fuel also has a greater chance of gelling or freezing up. This comes from the water in the fuel having less area to disperse.
While anti-gel additives help prevent fuel from gelling, the best bet you have is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Always double check that your fuel tank is above half-a-tank, especially when you may be running into adverse winter conditions.
Keep Food Handy
While it may seem strange to hear us recommend having emergency rations on hand, the last thing you want to do is starve because you are stranded and there is no food anywhere nearby. Eating food also generates body heat, so it would not be a bad idea to stock a small supply of emergency snacks and rations, whether it be candy bars, granola bars, easy-to-make hot meals, or dried fruits and nuts.
Canned soup or jerky also comes in handy and may not need to be heated. You can also use alternative sources of heat, such as defrosters or Sterno cans. Either way, there are different options available to you if you do need heat, but the best idea is to find ration sources that do not need to be cooked and are ready-to-eat.
Have you ever considered carrying a winter survival kit in your cab? Just because you may not be used to dealing with extreme winter weather does not mean you should be caught unprepared. Additionally, you want to make sure you are carrying appropriately warm clothing. Whether it be a heavy parka, long johns, thick socks, or otherwise, if you run out of fuel or food and you are stranded on the side of the road, you will need to fall back on warm winter clothing.
Fortunately, if your budget does not accommodate expensive warm clothing, you can always visit your nearest army surplus, Goodwill, or thrift store. Keep in mind, you won’t be wearing these clothes to a major event, but rather would be using them only in times of extreme need.
Have a Strategy in Mind
If you find yourself in a situation where you are stranded on the side of the road, it is important to have a survival strategy. The worst thing you can do is panic and make a poor choice. You want to clearly assess your options and not do anything rash.
Before you head out, knowing the weather will be bad, make sure you know who you will try to contact if you get stranded. Plan to use your fuel sparingly, idle as little as possible, and properly ration your food. Never leave your vehicle in search of shelter. Your truck is your shelter.
Keeping warm is key in such situations. Provided you have a strategy in place and are well-prepared to survive the elements, survive will be just what you do.