Here's What Experts Recommend if Motorists Become Stranded During a Winter Storm

NBCUniversal Media, LLC

Motorists are being urged to use extreme caution for an approaching winter storm taking aim at the Chicago area, but they're offering tips for those who absolutely have to travel in the hazardous conditions.

Those conditions could include heavy or blowing snow at times, with ferocious winds expected to last through at least Saturday across the Chicago area.

Frigid conditions are also expected, with rapidly-falling temperatures potentially creating icy spots on area roadways.

That confluence of events could lead to hazardous or even "potentially life-threatening conditions" on Thursday and Friday, according to the National Weather Service.

For those who are out on roadways this week, the Illinois Department of Transportation has offered their tips for staying safe.

Here are some tips that the department offers to motorists who find themselves stranded in the nasty weather.

-If your car ends up disabled, try to move it as far off the road as possible. Set your hazard lights to flashing, and hang or tie a colored cloth to your antenna, window or door.

-If your vehicle becomes stuck in snow, call a tow company. Be sure to know your milepost and approximate location. It is possible that you could be stuck in your vehicle for several hours.

If using an Illinois Tollway road, dial *999 instead.

-As part of your winter survival kit, you should have a tow rope with loops on both ends. If possible to be pulled out of the snow, use this instead of a chain, as those can more easily slip, become dislodged and potentially cause serious damage or injury.

-STAY IN YOUR VEHICLE. Do NOT set out on foot unless you can see a building close by where you can take shelter.

-When staying in the vehicle, be sure that the exhaust pipe is not blocked by snow.

-Run your engine for approximately 10 minutes every hour or so to help keep the interior of your car warm. Turn on the dome light while running the engine to avoid draining the battery.

-When the engine is running, crack a window for ventilation.

-Move around and exercise to keep blood circulating.

-Be sure not to waste battery by using the radio or the interior lights when the car is not running.

IDOT also has a list of items you should keep in a winter survival kit.

Winter Storm Survival Kit:

-Cell phone and charger

-Blankets and/or sleeping bags

-Flashlights with extra batteries

-First-aid kits


-High-calorie, non-perishable food


-Extra clothing

-Waterproof matches to melt snow for drinking water

-A sack of sand or cat litter to help get out of icy conditions


-Windshield scraper and brush


-Tow rope with loops

-Jumper cables

-A compass

Things to Do Prior to Driving

-Make sure your vehicle is properly winterized. Check your wipers, tires, lights and fluid levels. Make sure the brakes are in working order, and lubricate door and trunk locks to prevent them from freezing.

-Text or call loved ones or friends, and provide an exact itinerary.

Things to Remember While Driving

-Buckle seat belts.

-Slow down on snowy or ice-coated roads. Allow plenty of additional space for braking.

-If you start to slide, ease off the gas pedal and brake. Steer into the direction of the skid until you have regained traction.

More information can be found on the IDOT website.

Contact Us