2-hour wait for tow trucks; Plan before you get stranded

Posted by LS - email

TOLEDO (WTOL) - Cars are having trouble starting in this arctic blast. Older batteries can't handle the strain. Piasecki's says the phones are ringing off the hook, and the wait for a tow is 2-3 hours.

The key is to plan ahead before you get stranded.
Old battery
If you have an old battery and didn't change it out before the arctic blast, try not to drive Friday. Temperatures will go up this weekend. (Weather forecast). According to AAA, 3-4 years is considered old and in need to be checked before going out in the cold.
Cell phone & emergency numbers

If you have to drive, be sure to bring a cell phone with emergency contact phone numbers and a towing company. Here's a list of towing company phone numbers.

Emergency car kit
Also, dress warm and pack an emergency kit in your car. Our wtol.com article 'Are you prepared for the arctic blast?' has a detailed list of emergency supplies.
Fuller gas tank

Keep your gas tank at least half full to avoid gas line freeze-up and ensure that you have extra running time.

Frozen locks

If door locks are frozen, be sure to warm the key or use a lock de-icer. Never combine heat with lock de-icer as it is flammable. Don't pour warm water on the car as it may re-freeze making the situation worse; warming your key first will help heat up the lock from the inside.

Warm up car for 10 minutes

Warm up your vehicle for at least five to 10 minutes before heading out. Warming your vehicle allows oil and engine to warm up, as well as the heat and defrosting systems.

Avoid parking brake if possible

When you get to your destination, try to park in a garage. Also, if possible, avoid using your parking brake in below freezing weather as it may freeze in the locked position.

What to Do if You Get Stranded

The last bit of advice from a tow truck dispatcher is to call to get yourself picked up and leave the car. You can call to get the car picked up when they can get to it.

In these temperatures, call 911 if you are stranded and can't get picked up by someone else.

Staying in your vehicle while waiting is often the safest choice.  These steps will increase your safety when stranded:

  • Tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna as a signal to rescuers and raise the hood of the car (if it is not snowing).
  • Move anything you need from the trunk into the passenger area.
  • Wrap your entire body, including your head, in extra clothing, blankets, or newspapers to avoid hypothermia.
  • Stay awake. You will be less vulnerable to cold-related health problems.
  • Run the motor (and heater) for about 10 minutes per hour if possible, opening one window slightly to let in air. Make sure that snow is not blocking the exhaust pipe. This will reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • As you sit, keep moving your arms and legs to improve your circulation and avoid frostbite.
  • Do not eat unmelted snow because it will lower your body temperature.
  • Huddle with other people for warmth.