MILWAUKEE COUNTY -- During the blizzard last year, dozens of abandoned vehicles were found along highways in southeast Wisconsin. Some drivers had to wait hours until help arrived.
To prevent this situation from happening to you, Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke said quick thinking and preparation can help get you out of a tough spot.
If you get stuck, whatever you do, don't panic.
“Get over that panic so you can think properly. What should I do? Who should I call? How do I do this? How do I stay alive? Because it's really survival until law enforcement or some sort of emergency first responder gets to you,” Clarke said.
While waiting for help, stay inside your car. If you can, leave the car running.
“Because you can stay warm. Hypothermia sets in quickly and that's a major issue for you,” Clarke said.
Be sure to check that your tailpipe is clear, so you aren't left breathing in carbon monoxide. If you must leave for an emergency, do not walk out into the road. If possible use your car as a barrier between you and oncoming traffic.
“That’s so someone else doesn't come along in the area behind you. That way, you have some sort of buffer if someone else comes along and plows into you,” Clarke said.
Clarke said depending on the storm and the situation, it can be quite some time before help arrives. So be sure to have an emergency kit in your car with things like blankets, hats, gloves, water and food. A flashlight, a shovel, a bag of rock salt and a tow chain will also be helpful.
“Best thing to do is be prepared ahead of time,” Clarke said.
If you know there’s a storm coming, fill up your gas tank up before leaving with your cell phone fully charged. The last thing you'd want in a storm is to be running on empty and become stranded.
“Go through a short checklist just in your mind before you get out there. If you do that, it's going to help because it's too late once it happens,” Clarke said.
Experts also say if you do get stuck in a storm and a phone call can't get through, try texting. Text messages can usually be sent when a regular call can't.