Record-Low Temperatures Cripple Cars

Staying Safe When You're Stranded by Car Problems

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources is reminding motorists who will be driving during severe winter weather to be aware of tips to stay safe in the event their automobile leaves them stranded for a period of time in freezing temperatures.   

“We never expect to encounter automobile problems when we leave our homes to go to work, to the grocery store, or even to a doctor’s appointment,” said Dr. Letitia Tierney, State Health Officer and Commissioner for the Bureau for Public Health.  “But far too often, things just happen and we can become stranded. We need to be prepared and know what we can do until help arrives.  This information can help save your life and prevent injuries.” 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the following tips to help you stay safe in the event that you become stranded in your automobile during the winter:  

•  Tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna as a signal to rescuers.  

•  Move anything you need from the trunk into the passenger area.  

•  Wrap your entire body, including your head, in extra clothing, blankets, or newspapers.  

•  Stay awake. You will be less vulnerable to cold-related health problems.  

•  Run the motor (and heater) for about 10 minutes per hour, opening one window slightly to let
   in air. Make sure that snow is not blocking the exhaust pipe—this will reduce the risk of carbon
   monoxide poisoning.

•  As you sit, keep moving your arms and legs to improve your circulation and stay warmer.  

•  Do not eat unmelted snow because it will lower your body temperature. 

Before heading out in your automobile, take a few moments to prepare for potential problems before they occur.  Make sure you have plenty of gasoline in your automobile.  Wear a hat, scarf or knit mask, mittens or gloves, water-resistant coat and shoes, and several layers of loose-fitting clothing.  If possible, bring a fully charged cellular phone with you.

Always tell someone where you are going and if you do not arrive by a specified time, then they will know that something may be wrong.  To learn more about staying safe this winter visit the Center for Threat Preparedness website at

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Connie Scott was having a bad morning Tuesday.

"It is very cold," Scott said. "If I didn't have to go to work, I wouldn't be out in it."

Scott got all bundled up to go to work only to find out the cold weather was too much for her truck.

"I came out about 30 minutes ago and it wouldn't start," Scott said. "I went to my neighbor and asked him if he had a jumper cable, and he's going to jump me."

Scott was not alone. Countless drivers are going through the same experience as temperatures drop to near or below zero.

While these bitterly cold temperatures are bad for your car, it's big business for Davie Baker and the folks at Professional Towing Service in Huntington.

"Right now, we're an hour and a half to two hours behind because were backed up that far," Baker said. "We're seeing a lot of dead batteries and frozen cars. This one, for instance, the antifreeze in it froze up last night solid and busted everything."

Baker says drivers can avoid these types of headaches by taking care of their car before the bad weather arrives.

"Preventative maintenance is the number one key," Baker said. "We were warned that temperatures were going to drop. So, it wouldn't have hurt to take your car to a shop and have it checked."

As for Scott and her Chevy, the jump worked which allowed her to head on her way. You just shouldn't expect her to be a fan of winter anytime soon.

"I'm ready for spring," Scott said. "I know winter just started, but I'm ready for spring."

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