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The World of Iniquus - Action Adventure Romance

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Stuck in the Car During a Snowstorm: How to Save Your Heroine's Life


(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Your heroine was out of there! She jumped into her car and drove at break-neck speed, racing away from the troubles that you wrote into her plot line. She couldn't see the distant city lights yet as she flew down the lonely dark highway, but surely she was getting closer to civilization and some sanity - or maybe just a stiff drink.

Not so fast, silly heroine! Your author has written you an empty gas tank. Looks like you're stuck in sub-freezing temperatures by the side of the road. Now what?

Maybe she isn't even out there alone and far from civilization? Here's a link to a story where a family with a baby is stranded on a highway for 26 hours along with everyone else. No rescuers coming to the rescue. Did your character come prepared?
LINK (1:21)
A cricket groundsman's nightmare - geograph.or...
Photo credit: Wikipedia)

YIPES! Maybe this is what happened to your character:
Video Quick Link - (1:35) black ice
Video Quick Study (0:56) slush

... or maybe she's a kick-ass driver?
Video Quick Study (6:20) - Driving well on ice - besides the bloke has a great English accent (always a
Video Quick Study (4:14) Acceleration
Video Quick Study (1:14) Did you put your heroine into a four-wheel drive?

Here are some ideas on how to save your heroine and make her look like she knows how to take charge of a bad situation. Or reverse if you feel like making her life really miserable.

RULE #1 Do NOT leave the car!

Best case:
* She told someone when she left, the route, and when she should get to her destination.
* Heroine should be aware of where she is travelling so she can give an exact location to rescue workers.
* Arrive safely and let everyone know she made it. Whew!

But then she got stuck in a snowbank?
* Stay with the car
* Call for help, giving location
* Start car periodically to warm it up and keep the battery from draining.
   (so the horn will work to signal for help)
* Make SURE that the tailpipe is free of obstruction (like snow drift)
   you don't want your heroine to asphyxiate on carbon monoxide. Or maybe you do...
* Have your character weigh the pros and cons of getting out of the car
   `Drop in core temperature when exposed to wind and snow
   `Damp clothes that wick heat away from the body and no longer provide
    insulation and warmth.
   `Are there things in her trunk that might be helpful? That could save her from
    discomfort, if not save her life?

Video Quick Study (5:27) family go stuck overnight.

Which leads us to her EDC (Every Day Carry)

How smart and prepared is your heroine?

This is an example EDC winter kit that she might have in the back of the car along with water bottles.
All of these items tuck easily into the small plastic bucket with room for other things your heroine might want.
This kit contains:
* Food for three days (fiber bars, jerky, raisins, peanut butter, candy)
* An in-car toilet kit. Okay guys, roll your eyes, but "going" out in sub-freezing weather for ladies in winter
   clothing would take a yoga master. Also, every time she opens the door, she lets out any warmth she's built
   up in the car, and exposes way too much of herself to the elements - the cold and the wet. So instead, she
   lines the white plastic bucket with a draw-string bag, uses that with the TP, then closes the top firmly.
   Tah dah!
* A hand crank radio/flashlight (ours also has a phone charger - though this is only helpful if your heroine is
   travelling where there is a phone signal.) This will:
` Keep the car battery from going low
` Give her needed information on weather conditions
` Help keep up her morale and help her pass the time
` Have her keep her circulation moving by doing this light exercise without breaking a sweat and
   moistening her clothes.
* Glow light
* Hat
* Emergency blanket - which can be tented over the in-car heater to help reflect
   even more heat onto the heroine and help keep her toasty warm.
* Lighter
* Knife
* Extra trash bag (to collect snow if she forgot her water bottles or runs out of water)
* Hand warmers
* In-car heater: unused paint can, small Crisco, piece of paper

(NOTE: this heater with one wick raised the ambient car temperature to 68F while the exterior temperatures were dropping. Two wicks would increase the amount of heat output but increase smoke and fire hazard.)

Other things that she should/could have on hand:

* Signal flares and other signalling devices. She can use the mirrors in her car, and beep the horn in a
   sequence of three. REMEMBER any grouping of three - light flashes, sound blasts, etc. - are an
   international distress signal. Call AUTHORITIES immediately to get them involved in the situation.
   If your character is running into an unknown situation- she should do so with caution.
   It could be a home-invasion/kidnapping scenario.
* Extra gloves
* Sub-zero sleeping bag
* A folding shovel
* Jumper cables, windshield scrapers, tire re-inflation cans and other normal car EDC items

Consumer Reports talks your heroine through pre-winter preparation. If she didn't do it, well there you have your plot twist! Video Quick Study (11:00)
Taken in mirror by subject after shoveling sno...
. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here's hoping both you and your character stay safe. 

Thank you so much for stopping by. And thank you for your support. When you buy my books, you make it possible for me to continue to bring you helpful articles and keep ThrillWriting free and accessible to all.

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  1. A reader contacted me on Twitter to ask why Crisco and not a candle. Well, there are several reasons:
    *Crisco is multi-purpose and I love multipurpose. For example you can eat the Crisco, you can use the Crisco on cut and wind burned hands
    from when the heroine tried to claw her way out of her mess.
    * Crisco and the larger paper wick puts off a lot more heat and the heroine could add another wick - smoke and fire hazards being considered.
    Remember, I was heating a mini-van. A car would be much easier to keep warm because there is less air to heat.
    * Crisco can burn for about 45 days so more than an ample amount of time to be found and rescued while a large candle burns for a day or so.
    * Candles are n glass containers which are produced to not transfer heat so that you don't catch your house on fire. We want heat dispersion.

    Those were my thoughts when I put together the emergency Crisco candle for our vehicles and then threw in the paint can with the thought that it would help keep the melted fat off the carpets, reduce the chance of a fire, and help to magnify the heat output. Fun that it worked!

  2. Great idea! I just got a can and figure I'll try this out in a soup pot -- think that will work ok?