Stuck in the snow, off the road? AAA offers survival tips

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CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WIVB)–If the cold and blowing snow that hit Western New York this week causes a car to slide off the road, and get stuck, it can be just as dangerous to the driver as a multi-car accident. The vehicle can get accidentally buried by snow plows, hypothermia can set in, or a driver can be overcome by carbon monoxide.

That is why it is important to know just how to react, and experts at the AAA of Western and Central New York offered advice for drivers, Thursday, that can save lives.

For Joey Hamilton of Lancaster, he was lucky to be in a safe, warm place to wait for a AAA emergency crew when his van got stuck pulling out of his driveway.

“I’m just backing out of the driveway and I slid into this little mini-ditch that is formed. I tried to move my way out and it just kept getting worse.”

AAA freed Hamilton’s van that he uses for his entertainment-education business, “Checkers the Inventor,” in a matter of a few minutes.

But what if Hamilton got stuck on the side of a road less traveled, and farther away from folks who could help him?

Scott Simpson, Western Fleet Supervisor for the AAA of Western and Central New York, said try to maintain your composure.

“Remain calm, and if you are in a ditch on the side of the road somewhere and you are unsafe, call 911 immediately.”

Dan Rivera, the fleet supervisor for the AAA of Western and Central New York, said when a driver gets stuck in a ditch or alongside the road, it is important to stay in the car whenever possible.

“When you are in your car it is important to keep your seatbelt on, just in case anybody else slides off the road, you are secure in your vehicle.”

If you get stuck in an area where there is a driving ban, you might be on your own for hours, and Rivera said that is why a full tank of gas and a fully charged cell phone are critical.

If frigid temperatures pose a danger of hypothermia or frostbite, Rivera said use the car’s heater just enough to avoid freezing, and try to make sure the tailpipe is clear of snow.

“If you can safely do so, get out of the vehicle and make sure the tailpipe is clear. This way you are not getting any carbon monoxide buildup back into the cabin of the vehicle.”

If you can’t get out safely to clear your tailpipe, Rivera said make sure your windows are open just enough to prevent carbon monoxide from building up in the passenger compartment.

The AAA says it is also vitally important to use your emergency flashers, so drivers are aware of you, and when help comes, they can find you.

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