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Staying safe while stranded in a car during a blizzard

Published: Jan. 14, 2022 at 8:40 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) -Earlier this month, thousands of drivers in Virginia were caught in a snowstorm and stranded for 24 hours.

It’s happened here too. Back in 2011, conditions quickly changed causing up to 200 cars stuck on I-29, causing the interstate to close from Watertown to the Canada border.

Captain Adam Zishka with the Minnehaha County Sheriff Department describes how to best prepare for winter travel and what to do in a worst-case scenario of getting stranded in your car.

Before leaving, it’s a good idea to have a full tank of gas and make sure your windshield wipers are in good working order. Being dressed for cold weather can be beneficial if you need to leave your vehicle.

Checking in with someone to let them know of your route and expected timeline can be helpful, so they can alert authorities if you don’t arrive at the expected time.

Items to have in your car include:

  • Snow shovel
  • Scraper or de-icer
  • Extra blankets
  • Warm clothing
  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Extra medications.

Staying in your car is safest. The only time to leave the vehicle is just a few minutes to clear any snow that’s blocking the exhaust pipe, which could cause carbon monoxide poisoning.

Zishka says when emergency responders do arrive, be prepared to leave immediately with them. Responders have arrived to a person in a stranded car, but the individual does not want to leave, as they’ve made arrangements for a tow.

You can monitor travel conditions by dialing 511 anywhere in South Dakota.

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