What motorists need to survive harsh winter driving
CTV.ca News Staff
Published Tuesday, December 14, 2010 4:18PM EST
Last Updated Saturday, May 19, 2012 3:26AM EDT
And you thought being stuck in an airport was bad.
Imagine being trapped on a highway in the middle of a blizzard with nothing but the contents of your vehicle or your own thoughts to keep you busy.
Brandon Junkin can tell you what it's like.
Junkin was stuck near Sarnia, Ont., for more than 24 hours by Tuesday afternoon, as a snowstorm continued to blind and freeze parts of Southern Ontario, stranding about 300 people.
"I've driven in bad conditions but I've never seen anything like this," Junkin told CTV.ca by phone.
The Ontario Provincial Police said motorists should stay inside their cars and wait for help if they get stuck.
It's equally important to plan ahead for winter's wrath. Several agencies, including the Canadian Red Cross, are offering timely winter driving and survival tips for motorists to stay safe.
Tom Windebank, CRC's manager of disaster management in the Toronto and Peel regions, said people should check the weather forecast and road conditions, which can change rapidly, before heading out
"If the weather looks bad, don't go. Change your plan," Windebank said.
If you do venture out give yourself extra travel time, fill your gas tank and bring a fully-charged cellphone, in addition to an emergency road kit, said Jeff LeMoine of CAA Ontario.
According to both agencies, such a kit should contain these items:
- Ice scraper and brush
- Sand or kitty litter
- Blankets, winter boots, gloves and hats, and extra clothes
Canadian Red Cross also recommends carrying a tow chain, warning light or flares, food bars, booster cables, a first-aid kit, road maps and a fire extinguisher.
"If you get into trouble you need these things with you," Windebank said.
Alone in his pickup truck, Junkin had plenty of fuel in his tank but he was running out of ways to fight off boredom.
He spent most of his time listening to a local radio station, hoping to hear good news about the weather and rescue.
At one point he tidied the interior of his truck. Layers of ice on his windshield and driver's side window kept him busy, too.
"I was scraping the ice with a credit card," said Junkin, a 32-year-old business owner from Whitby, Ont.
Perhaps the most exciting part was a visit from a young couple on a snowmobile, who offered a cup of hot chocolate Monday night.
"That was the best because I hadn't eaten since breakfast," he said.
Junkin first got stuck on ice-covered Highway 402 in whiteout conditions Monday at 9 a.m. OPP ushered him and other motorists to London Line Road, where he spent the night huddled in his truck.
Overall, it hasn't been an entirely dull experience. It has been a challenge to stay warm and comfortable.
Junkin's truck began to run out of gas late Monday. He turned off the engine, putting his truck's interior in a deep freeze.
He wrapped himself in extra clothes and a blanket and tucked his feet under his bottom to stay warm as high winds rocked the truck back and forth.
"It was getting really cold and I was shaking really bad," Junkin said. "You felt like you were alone there, like completely helpless."
He was marooned until Tuesday at about 10 a.m., when a path was cleared and people proceeded to Reece's Corner, about 20 km east of Sarnia.
There, Junkin re-fuelled and grabbed a bite to eat but by Tuesday afternoon he was still waiting until he could return home.