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How to Sleep in Your Car

Winter weather has forced many stranded motorists to spend the night in their car - if you do break down or fall victim to particularly bad weather, your comfort - perhaps even survival - depends on how you react.

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Winter weather has forced many stranded motorists to spend the night in their car - even on a crowded snow-bound motorway. Fortunately these occurrences are rare but if you do break down or fall victim to particularly bad weather, your comfort - perhaps even your survival - depends on how you react.

Assuming an alternative source of shelter isn't available, always stay in the car as it offers the best protection from rain, wind and snow.

Hopefully you have packed some emergency supplies (as outlined in the planning and preparation section) which will make following these basic guidelines easier but with some ingenuity even an unprepared driver can attempt most of them:

Run The Engine

  • If your car starts and has fuel, use it for heat. Cover the bonnet so that as little heat as possible is wasted - but always make sure that the exhaust is clear. Note: Do not go to sleep with the engine running.

Switch Off

  • When the engine has taken the chill off the interior. Start it again when the temperature drops to maximise your fuel.

Wrap-Up

  • If there's no fuel or the engine won't start, wrap up in anything you can find - spare clothing, picnic rugs, car seat covers and even scrunched-up paper can be used to insulate you and retain body heat.

Create A Barrier

  • Between yourself and the glass, which soaks heat from the car interior. Use newspapers, road maps, car mats, sun shades, anything you can find.

Keep Eating

  • Shivering burns calories leading to the release of energy, so replace them by taking warm drinks and eating high calorie foods such as chocolate or nuts (though any spare sugary food in the glovebox will do).

Stay Together

  • If you have passengers share body heat by cosying-up under a blanket to maximise heat retention and minimise loss.

Survival Tip

When I was stationed in Norway, if we broke down the advice was to get out of the vehicle; as the temperature inside a metal armoured truck is actually several degrees lower than outside. However, modern cars are well insulated so stay inside. (Lofty)

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