Are you and your car ready for the next polar vortex?

(November 11, 2014) BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — Last year showed us that winter weather can come sooner, end later, and hit unsuspecting parts of the country. That could mean heavy snows, dangerous ice and some altogether rough driving conditions. It could also mean unforeseen time stuck in your car. State Farm wants to help drivers prepare themselves and their cars for the unexpected…especially for the next polar vortex.

Just ask Atlanta, Ga, residents about lessons learned from the Jan. 28, 2014, polar vortex storm that took over much of the U.S. What made the late January storm so shocking was it affected parts of the country, like Atlanta, that rarely receive winter storms of such magnitudes, leaving many area residents unprepared for winter driving and the possibility of being stranded on the road.

Tiana Person, was stuck on the road for nine hours, a trip that would normally have taken 20 minutes, during last winter’s storm that rocked the Southeast.

“The road was so slippery, if the road had the slightest incline, you could not drive let alone walk, and it was nothing but a sheet of ice,” said Person. “I was lucky I always have blankets in my car but road salt or something to get traction would have been amazing.”

Her husband Chris was stranded for an unimaginable 22 hours. While he had a coat to stay warm and a phone charger to keep in touch with his family he had to abandon his car at times to seek food, water and a restroom and sleep in his car overnight. The next day when he finally got home, in the light of day, he realized his car had been hit several times.

Lettie Hernandez Ongie and her husband were both stuck for 13 hours separately trying to get home from work. Fortunately they both made it home with no car damage or injuries, unlike so many others.

“It was ice skating meets bumper cars. I was fortunate that I had a phone charger and extra clothes but my husband didn’t,” said Ongie. “We both learned we need to be more prepared with blankets, food and water.”

“As Ongie and Person now know, even on a relatively short trip, despite your climate, you can find yourself stranded for several hours. They were lucky they had blankets or clothes to stay warm but there are other additional items everyone should have in their trunk in case of emergencies,” said John Nepomuceno, auto safety research administrator from State Farm.

Some Important Emergency roadside items that can help you sta
y safe until help arrives:

    Hazard triangle (with reflectors) or road flares
    First aid kit
    Jumper cables
    Windshield scraper and brush
    Spare tire
    Blankets and extra warm clothing
    Cell phone and charger
    High-calorie, non-perishable food
    Road salt or cat litter to help with tire traction
    Brightly colored distress sign or "Help" or "Call Police" flag
    Candle/matches, lighter, and/or flashlight
    Tarp for sitting or kneeling in the snow for exterior work like a tire change

“This year I will prepare differently. I will keep water, food, a flashlight in my car. But hopefully we aren’t on the roads at all during a storm,” shared Person.

“No matter what region of the country you live, State Farm encourages all drivers to stock their trunk with emergency kits to help if the unexpected happens, “ says Nepomuceno. “Also, check to make sure all of your supplies are working properly. What’s worse than a flat tire? Discovering your spare is flat too.”