Locked out in the cold

September 29, 2022

Locked out in the cold

September 29, 2022

 

On a bitterly cold evening, OnStar came to the aid of a Member who was locked out of her vehicle after a simple mix-up with her keys

It was one of the coldest nights in recent memory in Almonte, Ontario, as temperatures hovered around minus 30 degrees Celsius. Gayle Stanley remembers it well as she was out to dinner with a group of friends. But it wasn’t the food and good company that made that night one she’ll never forget.

Earlier that evening, as she was ready to head out, Gayle asked her son Nicolas to start her car. “It was brutally cold that night,” recalls Gayle. “I had my son go outside and use the key fob to start my car because the remote start automatically shuts off after 10 minutes.”

Ironically, it was this prudent decision that ended up putting Gayle in a very precarious and downright chilling situation on that January night.

Gayle normally keeps her key fob on her keychain and never thinks twice about it. It’s always there. However, when she asked her son to start her car that evening, she removed the key fob. When she arrived at the restaurant, she locked the car doors and immediately knew what she had done.

“I shut the car door and heard the two horn honks indicating that the keys were in the car,” Gayle recalls. “I always push the lock button on the door, so I knew right away that the keys were inside.”

Her first instinct was to call her son to have him bring the spare key fob, but it was nowhere to be found. Gayle needed a Plan B, and fast.

Gayle was able to stay inside the restaurant, which was good because at minus 30 degrees Celsius, frostbite can occur in less than 10 minutes when the skin is exposed. In temperatures like those, a minor inconvenience could turn into a major disaster.

Gayle suddenly remembered that she had OnStar* but knew she couldn’t get inside of her car to push the blue OnStar button.

“Then I remembered that I can just call OnStar on my phone. But I went into a second panic, thinking ‘What the heck is my OnStar password?’” she says. “Luckily, I have a password app on my phone, so I called. By the time I put my coat on and got out to my car, it was open.”

More ways to request assistance

You can also contact an Advisor for help in an emergency via the OnStar Guardian™ app.*

Every month, more than 40,000 drivers worldwide find themselves locked out of their vehicles and call OnStar to have an Advisor unlock their doors.* But for most of these Members, locking the keys in the car is an annoying inconvenience and not a matter of personal safety, as was the case for Gayle.

Joe Alton, MD, is a physician, author and medical preparedness expert who has created more than 1,200 articles, podcasts and videos on medical preparedness. He knows all too well the dangers of frostbite and hypothermia.

“A person’s core temperature only has to drop below 35 degrees Celsius to experience ill effects of cold exposure,” says Dr. Alton. “At minus 30 degrees Celsius, general hypothermia can develop in as little as ten minutes. With high wind conditions leading to wind chill, the time might be even less.”

If you find yourself stranded outside in extremely cold temperatures, Dr. Alton offers the following tips:
 

  • Stay calm.
  • If you’re wearing gloves and a hat, don’t remove them. If not, tuck your hands in your armpits and find something to cover your head.
  • If you have extra clothing, put it on, as each layer traps warmer air.
  • Find a shelter or location that is out of the wind.
  • Remove any wet clothing if you have a blanket or dry clothing as a replacement.
  • Avoid sitting directly on the cold ground as a barrier is critical to help retain body heat.
  • Stay hydrated. But don’t eat snow as that will just speed up the drop in body temperature.
     

However, the best advice Dr. Alton can offer is to plan and prepare for worst-case situations. “Most people who succumb to hypothermia made errors when it came to dressing for the weather, estimating weather conditions and choosing supplies,” he says.

As for Gayle, she plans on always being prepared by only purchasing General Motors vehicles with OnStar.

Dr. Alton has authored several books on medical preparedness, including the Book Excellence Award winner in medicine, The Survival Medicine Handbook, and contributes to leading survival homesteading and preparedness magazines.

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An app above

Access remote commands, check vehicle or charge status and more, right from your myChevrolet, myBuick, myGMC or myCadillac mobile app.

Missing keys equal missing car

The myChevrolet mobile app helps an owner locate his stolen vehicle and work with police to get it back

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