AMES, Iowa — A new smartphone application from the North Dakota State University Extension Service will help motorists prepare for winter weather travels. And should they get stuck in winter weather, the app provides on-the-spot assistance.
The Winter Survival Kit app can be as important as a physical winter survival kit when motorists get stuck or stranded in severe winter weather conditions. It's available free for both Android and iOS systems. Charles Schwab, Iowa State University Extension safety specialist, said the app is a useful tool for anyone living in the Midwest.
"The app will help you find your current location, call 911, notify your friends and family, calculate how long you can run your engine to keep warm and stay safe from carbon monoxide poisoning," Schwab said. "You can use the Winter Survival Kit app to store important phone and policy numbers for insurance or roadside assistance. You can also designate emergency contacts you want to alert when you become stranded."
A stranded motorist can even use the Winter Survival Kit app to determine geographic location and contact emergency services. The app's gas calculator estimates how long the car engine will run on the remaining fuel.
The Winter Survival Kit app will alert a motorist every 30 minutes as a reminder to turn off the vehicle's engine periodically and check the exhaust pipe for snow buildup. These alerts are critical as they can help stranded motorists avoid deadly carbon monoxide poisoning, Schwab said.
The Winter Survival Kit app also provides information on how to put together a physical winter survival kit, prepare your vehicle for winter driving and stay safe when stranded in a storm or stuck in snow.
The app was developed by Myriad Devices, a company based in the NDSU Research and Technology Park incubator, which was founded by students and faculty in the NDSU Electrical and Computer Engineering Department and College of Business. The NDSU Extension Service provided design and content input, and funded the project with a U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Smith-Lever Special Needs grant.
Schwab suggests that drivers without smartphones find the instructions for survival kits and vehicle preparation on the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) website: www.iowadot.gov/maintenance/wintersafety.html. Information also is available as a one-page Iowa DOT flyer, Winter Driving Tip Sheet.