MANHATTAN, Kan. – Whether commuting to work or traveling across three states to visit relatives for the holidays, winter travel can be hazardous.
Now is the time to download the Winter Survival Kit smartphone app in addition to gathering a winter survival kit for your vehicles. The app is for people traveling in areas where roads can be icy or who run the risk of getting stuck in the snow.
The free app is available for iPhones and Android smartphones at https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/extension/apps/winter-survival-kit. It’s provided by the North Dakota State University Extension Service, a member of the national Extension Disaster Education Network.
“The Winter Survival Kit app can be as critical as a physical winter survival kit if you find yourself stuck or stranded in severe winter weather conditions,” said Mary Knapp, assistant climatologist with the Kansas Weather Data Library at Kansas State University. K-State is also a member of EDEN.
The app will help users find their current location, call 911, notify friends and family, and estimate how long they can run a vehicle’s engine to keep warm before running out of fuel. It can also store important phone and policy numbers for insurance or roadside assistance and you can designate emergency contacts you want to alert if you become stranded.
The app alerts the user every 30 minutes as a reminder to turn off the vehicle’s engine and check the exhaust pipe for snow buildup, which is critical to avoiding potentially deadly carbon monoxide poisoning. Additionally, it provides information on putting together a physical winter survival kit, preparing a vehicle for winter driving and staying safe when stranded in an ice storm or stuck in snow.
“Even though your phone can find your location, call 911 and store contacts, the Winter Survival Kit app can help you stay calm when you may be in a dangerous situation,” Knapp said. “The gas estimation gauge and alerts especially may save lives. Parents can have their less-experienced drivers download the app for peace of mind.”
The Winter Survival Kit app was developed by Myriad Devices, a company founded by students and faculty in NDSU’s Electrical and Computer Engineering Department and College of Business in the NDSU Research and Technology Park incubator. 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 Smith-Lever Special Needs grant.