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Tips For Staying Safe When Stranded In Your Car

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – It’s a good idea to be prepared for roadside emergencies, especially this time of year. If you break down, run out of gas, or crash your car, what’s your plan of action on the side of the road?

An outreach specialist with the Utah Division of Emergency Management and Be Ready Utah shared a couple of critical and enlightening tips.

Be Seen

“You want to make sure anytime that you’re stopped on the side of the road that you can be seen,” said Bryan Stinson, who has focused on emergency preparedness for more than a decade.

If you jump out of your car on the side of the road at night or in a storm, other motorists can’t see you even when they have their headlights on. However, if you have a reflective safety vest on, you’re a lot safer on the side of the road. Without it, a motorist will not likely see you until it is too late.

“It’s really good to have some kind of Day-Glo and reflective strips on your vest so you can be seen,” said Stinson.

Wait For Help Inside Your Car

If you get stranded, call 911 if you have cell service. Turn on your hazard lights and stay in your car except to place reflective emergency triangles or flares.

“That’s the safest place for you while you wait for emergency responders to get there,” said Stinson.

He recommends placing the triangles about 40 paces behind your car.

“So that people can see, ‘Uh-oh, there’s a hazard in front of me,’ and they can react to that, slow down, whatever they need to do to get out of the way,” he said.

Stinson said too many motorists assume they can be seen at night without reflective clothing and try to assess their situation looking around outside the car.

He saw a motorist doing that on Interstate 15 the other day.

“There was an accident there,” he said. “She was outside of her car picking up debris off of the road. That is very dangerous.”

Leaving the car, in most situations, is also a bad idea.

“Stay with your vehicle,” Stinson said. “It’s much easier to see you in your vehicle and be found with your vehicle than it is a single person out of the middle of nowhere.”

Put Up Your Hood, Save Your Gas

If you need help, and you can’t call for help, put up the hood as a signal to other motorists that you need help. While stranded in the cold, turn the car on 10 minutes each hour to keep yourself warm enough until help arrives.

That’s one reason it’s always a good idea to keep your tank at least half full.

You can find more tips for a vehicle emergency kit at

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