As with most things, it’s easy to forget to form a backup plan for getting your car out of snow until it actually happens. During the winter months, it is important to be prepared with an emergency kit.

Pack a bag with a screwdriver and hand trowel – these items are small and easy to store, as opposed to a full-sized snow shovel. Make sure you have blankets, warm clothing, and emergency food in case you need to wait for help. These tips from can help you get—and stay—unstuck.

What to do: When you find yourself stuck in snow, the first thing to remember is safety.

  • Turn on your hazard lights, check and make sure the road is free of other vehicles before getting out, and minimize your time outside of the car.
  • Don’t spin your tires. That will only dig your car in deeper and possibly damage the tires.
  • Check your tailpipe. Clear it if it’s blocked by snow – this can cause deadly fumes to build up in your car.
  • Dig out the snow immediately surrounding your tires, and break up the ice under the tires with the screwdriver, this will give your wheels more traction.
  • If you have salt, sand, or kitty litter, put it under your rear tires before you try to pull out again.

What to not do: Some common mistakes motorists make when trying to free their car can end up causing more damage and expense. Techniques such as rocking your car by switching it rapidly from forward to reverse can damage your transmission.  Make sure you clear snow from your grille before driving off—blocking this vent can cause your car to overheat.

If all else fails: Call a tow truck. It’s wise to have a membership with an organization like AAA to make the process of calling for help is simple as possible. Remember that depending on how many other motorists need aid, you may end up waiting a while before help comes—so make sure you have an emergency kit in your car to stay safe and comfortable.