The Midwest is only hours away from getting hit by an ice storm that the weathermen are speculating might be worst on record. I hate ice. HATE. With the fiery passion of a thousand burning suns. The reason being, several years ago I was in a twenty-car pileup on I-40 in St. Louis. This is what happened to my car:
And I ended up in the hospital with thirty staples in my head. Not to mention the resulting back pain and anxiety that I still deal with today anytime I'm on the interstate. It was so chaotic and crazy. Looking back, there was so much I wish I would have known. And, it's because of that, I wanted to pass on my experience in case (God forbid) anyone find themselves in a similar situation.
Don't drive when it's icy out.
Okay, I know this one may not be avoidable. But if you don't have to go out, don't. Your life is worth more than any trip to Walmart.
Seat belt: Wear it.
I would be dead if it weren't for mine.
Drive with your cell phone under your butt/thigh.
This one may seem weird, but for those of you without Onstar (like me), if you get into an accident (especially if you're hurt) you're going to need your phone. I was hurt pretty badly in my accident and had kept my phone in the little dash cubby below the radio. However, after the beating my car took, my cell phone was gone. When you're hurt, the last thing you're going to be able to do is root around your car. If you're driving on ice, keep your phone someplace (I keep mine under my thigh) where it won't be tossed around upon impact. Sitting on your phone will also keep you from using it while driving - added bonus.
If you are able, while you are waiting for the police/ambulance to arrive, locate your valuables.
The EMTs were none too happy with me when, as they were pulling me from my car, I was scrambling for my purse. They yelled at me to leave it, but I'm glad I didn't. Several days after the accident, when I was finally able to locate which junkyard my car had been towed to, imagine my surprise to find that all of my cds, cd player, and everything else of value had been stolen from my car.
While waiting for the police/ambulance to arrive, do not get out of the car.
This one I didn't do. I was too hurt to move. But around me people began getting out of their cars and walking around the wreckage. This proved to be an almost fatal mistake. Not even five minutes after everyone thought the wreck was over, a semi-truck jackknifed and began sliding toward the cars. Luckily, everyone managed to either get out of the way or back inside of their cars before it hit. Bottom line: If you get hit by a semi, it's much safer to get hit inside your car rather than outside of it.
Once the police and/or ambulance arrives (and only if you are able), take LOTS of pictures.
Unfortunately, I was too injured to do this, but boy do I wish I was able to. I had been in stopped traffic when a car slammed into going 50 mph. Then the next twelve cars behind him did the same thing. I was the victim of several reckless drivers, but that didn't stop a woman from trying to sue me two years later for a quarter of a million dollars. Protect yourself. Take pictures of the scene as well as pictures of the license plates of those around you. You never know when that information will come in handy.
Make sure your cargo is tied down.
It's really amazing what goes on inside of a car upon impact. My worst injury came from a dog bed. It was in the back of my station wagon and, upon impact, flew out of the back and basically scalped the back of my head with its plastic leg. I also had a forty pound bag of dog food in the back of the car. When the EMT opened my jacket in the ambulance, at least two pounds of kibble fell out and rolled across the ambulance floor.
And last, but not least, your mom is right: Always wear clean underwear.
Seriously. There I was, bleeding in the ambulance, when the cute EMT asks me about my injuries. Imagine my surprise when, after telling him that my leg hurt, he whips out the biggest pair of scissors I've ever seen. That was the day half the population of St. Louis learned that Hanes really are her way. :)