How to Make a DIY Car Heating Kit to Survive a Winter Night Stranded in a Snowstorm

Car safety tips are always useful, especially because getting stuck can happen anywhere at any time. And if you live in an area with inclement winter weather, preparing to be stranded in a snowstorm should be a priority. Recent headlines about stranded motorists in Pakistan prove how dangerous freezing temperatures can be and how preparing for winter driving is a must.

Getting stranded in a snowstorm is a scary thought

Cars stranded in the snow in Chicago on February 2, 2011
Cars stranded in the snow in Chicago in 2011 | Scott Olson/Getty Images

The worst mistake any motorist can make is thinking dangerous scenarios can’t happen to them. Recently, almost two dozen motorists in Pakistan tragically died after becoming stranded in a snowstorm, The Hill reports.

In early January, a devastating blizzard hit Murree Hills, a mountain resort, trapping thousands of vehicles in a blanket of more than four feet of snow. Unable to leave their cars and forced to wait for rescue teams, motorists became hypothermic as temperatures dipped below 18 degrees. Carbon monoxide poisoning killed others after they left their cars running in an attempt to stay warm. In all, at least 22 people perished.

The tragedy is a stark reminder to all motorists that being prepared for any situation, including fast-moving snowstorms, is paramount. In fact, as Allstate shares, roughly 70% of winter injuries occur inside automobiles, with 25% of those happening during snowstorms.

But there are some great DIY hacks to help stay warm in icy roadside situations.

This DIY car heating kit could save you in an emergency

If you plan to drive in any winter weather conditions, you can prepare a DIY car heating kit to take with you. Consumer Affairs shares a kit you can assemble for less than $5 and includes only four items.

Pack a large metal can with a removable lid, such as a coffee can or cookie tin (a coffee can works best). Grab a pack of tea light candles, matches, and a water-tight resealable sandwich bag to hold the items. You can also add paperclips to pluck burning wicks out of the melting wax.

In a dire situation, light the candles within the fireproof tin, which will help radiate heat within your car. It’s no roaring fire by any means. But it can be enough warmth to take the chill out of the air and keep hypothermia at bay while you wait for help to arrive.

Other winter survial essentials to keep in your car

As handy as the DIY car heating kit is, it won’t be enough, especially if you end up stranded in a snowstorm for an extended period. So it’s equally important to keep a winter survival kit in your car at all times for emergencies. 

Consider packing a bag or small suitcase with extra clothes, including gloves, hats, and sweatshirts. Blankets are also a good idea, and hand warmers are helpful if you have them.

In addition, emergency roadside kits should include items that allow you to signal for help. Pack flares, flashlights with batteries, or even large brightly colored cloth. Plus, keeping a spare phone charger in the car will allow you to call for help and receive emergency weather updates. 

Consumables are also important to keep in your emergency car safety kit. They include bottles of water, snacks, and medications. You won’t know how long you might be stranded, so plan to sustain yourself for more than 24 hours. 

Before heading out in the winter months, make sure you’re prepared. Though you likely won’t need to use any of the above items, you’ll be glad to have them if you face a scary scenario like those unfortunate motorists in Pakistan.

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