Test Yourself: Could You Survive Being Stranded In Your Vehicle?

A family in Oregon became trapped in the wilderness over the Thanksgiving holiday, far from help, when their car got stuck in the snow. Would you survive in a similar situation? Take our quiz to find out.

Outdoor Life Online Editor

1. It's winter. You've driven down a remote trail and gotten your vehicle stuck. Night is coming. What do you do now?
A. Immediately leave the vehicle where it is and hike out to safety before it gets any darker.
B. Stay with the vehicle and wait for someone to come and find you.
C. Stand on the hood and yell for help.
D. Honk the horn as a distress signal.

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1. B and D. By all means, stay with the vehicle. Searchers are far more successful at finding lost or stranded people if they stay near the vehicle than if they wander away, leaving only footprints to follow. Use the horn to try to rouse the attention of anyone who might be in the area. In fact, use every opportunity, both visible and audible, to attract attention yourself.

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2. It's the third day of your being stranded in your vehicle. The temperature is below freezing. You're beginning to think that nobody is ever going to find you. Do you ...
A. Fire three rounds into the air, in hopes somebody will hear your signal
B. Build a smoky fire by feeding damp foliage into the blaze
C. Leave a note on the vehicle and try to hike out
D. Try again to get the vehicle unstuck

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2. B is the correct answer. Build up your signal fire, and position yourself near it so you can stay warm. A smoky fire by day, and a bright blaze by night are very effective distress signals that will attract the attention of searchers and lead them to your location.

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3. Before you leave for your trip, what is the most important thing you can do to ensure your safety?
A. Make sure to pack plenty of ammo.
B. Fill the vehicle with fuel
C. Prepare a detailed "flight plan" to leave with trusted friends or family
D. Study a map of the area

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3. While all four choices are good, the best thing you can do to ensure your safety is C. Prepare a detailed plan of your trip, including all the routes you intend to follow, and the intended locations of your overnight stops. Then, don't deviate from the plan.

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4. A winter storm has trapped you in your vehicle, and it's getting cold. How are you going to keep warm?
A. Start a small fire on the floor of your vehicle, and leave the windows down slightly to let the smoke out.
B. Run the engine so you can operate the heater.
C. Move out of the vehicle and make a shelter outside
D. Shiver hard to warm yourself

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4. Both B and C are good choices. After the fuel tank has run dry, you won't be able to run the engine so you can operate the vehicle's heater. Then it's time to move outside and build a shelter that is tight against the wind and precipitation. By doing so, you can maintain a warming fire that will also serve as a signal fire. Even though the vehicle offers shelter against wind and rain/snow, the glass and metal will trap cold and the inside of the vehicle will become like an icebox. Then you're often (unless something really severe blows in) better off outside with a good fire.

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5. You have failed to leave a trip plan and are fairly certain that nobody is going to miss you for a long time. You're convinced that nobody will come looking for you, and have decided to leave the vehicle and hike out for help. What is the best way to do this?
A. Follow your origginal tracks
B. Climb a hill or a tree to scope out the lay of the land and find a stream to follow downhill
C. Look for moss on the north side of the tree, and go north
D. Camouflage your vehicle before leaving, to prevent vandalism

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5. The correct answer is A. Follow your own tracks back to the main highway. If others are looking for you, they will likely be somewhere along that route. Trying to go crosscountry is too difficult and can lead to becoming lost or injured. Leave your vehicle as clearly visible as possible, to aid in the search. And leave a note on the vehicle, detailing your plan to hike out, the route you are taking, the color of your clothing, the number of people in your party, condition of your health, etc.