Early in January, a news story out of the US told the tale of hundreds of motorists stranded on Interstate 95 in Virginia. For nearly 24 freezing hours, drivers waited without food, water, all while running out of fuel. Seeing the images on TV, many thought “That would never happen here!”

Yet on Monday, 45cm of snow that fell on Toronto leading to highway closures. Transport trucks stranded on the highway prevented snow plows from getting through to clear the road for other motorists. Shortly after 7:00 am, Hwy 401 ground to a halt as all traffic was at a standstill. It would remain that way for more than 8 hours! By mid afternoon the Gardiner Expressway, Hwy 400 and Hwy 401 were closed as plows struggled to clear the roadways.

Getting stuck in a vehicle doesn’t always happen on a trek up to Northern Ontario. It can happen on a local stretch of highway commuters use each day. The risk of getting stranded in a vehicle is always present, and in Canadian winters, this is especially dangerous.

Always have a winter emergency kit in your car, including the following:

  • Food that won’t spoil, such as energy bars
  • Water—plastic bottles that won’t break if the water freezes (replace them every six months)
  • Blanket
  • Extra clothing and shoes or boots
  • First aid kit with seatbelt cutter
  • Small shovel, scraper and snowbrush
  • Candle in a deep can and matches
  • Wind‑up flashlight
  • Whistle—in case you need to attract attention
  • Roadmaps
  • Copy of your emergency plan

Items to keep in your trunk:

  • Sand or salt
  • Windshield washer fluid
  • Tow rope
  • Jumper cables
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Warning light or road flares

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