Once the snow starts to fall, a whole new set of 911 calls begin at the ambulance I work at. Instead of worrying how we’re going to carry a 300 lb. person down 467 stone steps in the local gorge, we start to worry about getting a person out of their car that’s upside down in the icy creek, or the hunter that’s lost in the sub zero degree weather. In many instances, winter emergencies can be more dangerous than emergencies that happen in other times of the year simply because there isn’t as much light, travel isn’t as easy, and the cold is a very real enemy. While we all hope that our family is never the one affected, sometimes it is, and it’s best to be prepared. This is the first of a two part series dealing with the two major emergencies seen in winter and will focus on car accidents.
Even if you’re the best driver out there, you may not be able to avoid an environmental problem or another driver who isn’t as careful. The number of car accidents increase during the winter months because of poorer road conditions, and everyone needs to be prepared! Here is a guide to being safe during and after an accident.
Things to keep in the car:
- A discontinued cell phone. Did you ever wonder why old cell phones are donated to domestic abuse shelters? It’s because as long as they’re charged, these old phones still posses the ability to call 911 even though services has been discontinued. So keep them in handy locations, but be sure your little ones don’t have access to them as the batteries can be dangerous.
- A list of your families names, dates of birth, medical history, and allergies. Keep this next to or in your wallet. It’s also a good idea to put this information on car seats (use a luggage tag to attach it).
- Blankets and those “instant hand/foot warmer” packs.
- A jug of water and dry packets of Gatorade as well as some hard candy and dry snack mix full of low salt high protein items.
- A shovel and kitty litter or salt to help you if your car gets stuck.
- Up to date insurance information along with your agent’s phone number.
- Seat belt cutter and window breaker.
Tips for if you get into an accident:
- Breath out and go loose upon impact. If sitting up front, straighten your legs out to avoid the dash hitting your knees and breaking your femurs.
- ALWAYS have everyone wear their seat belt, and make sure car seats are installed and buckled correctly.
- After the accident, turn off the ignition and determine injuries. If the car is on fire or someone is dead, get everyone out as quickly as possible.
- If anyone has neck or back pain, try to reduce movement of the head and spine as much as possible.
- Do not remove a child from his or her car seat unless you have to. Instead, remove the entire car seat from the car.
- If you must leave your car or if your car isn’t in a safe place, get everyone out and away from the road to avoid being hit by another car who runs off the road. If you went off the road because it was icy, you will probably be followed by the next person who drives in that same spot. Try to find a warm, safe, and visible location.
- Tell 911 what happened, the number of people involved, and any injuries.