A new free phone application for Texans and others stranded on the road during snow and ice storms has been added to the Texas Extension Disaster Education Network, or Texas EDEN website, said Texas AgriLife Extension Service experts.

The Winter Survival Kit app is now one of many disaster- and emergency-related materials available through the Texas EDEN website, http://texashelp.tamu.edu.

It is a smartphone application provided by the North Dakota State University Extension Service and is available at no cost for use with iPhone and Android, according to its developers. The app was developed as a means of helping motorists stuck in winter weather.

“With the amount of snow and ice during winter in the Panhandle and North Texas, plus the possibility of unusual cold weather occurrences elsewhere in the state, we felt it would be helpful to many Texans to make this app accessible through the website,” said Dr. Joyce Cavanagh, Texas AgriLife Extension Service specialist in family economics and resource management and a member of the national Extension Disaster Education Network.

Cavanagh said the app also would be of use to Texans who plan to drive to states that typically have more ice and snow during the winter –and are unfamiliar with the roadways they will be traveling.

“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 Bob Bertsch, North Dakota State University Agriculture Communication web technology specialist who led the team that developed the app.

Bertsch said the app will help users find their current location, call 911, notify friends and family and calculate how long it is possible to run a vehicle’s engine to keep warm before running out of fuel.

"You can use the Winter Survival Kit app to store important phone and policy numbers for insurance or roadside assistance,” he said. “You can also designate emergency contacts you want to alert when you become stranded."

The app also 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.

“We’re always searching for information and applications for the Texas EDEN site that will be of use during disaster or emergency situations,” said Dr. Andy Vestal, AgriLife Extension director of homeland security and emergency management in College Station. “The site is a repository of useful information we have made available and want people to be aware of and access in their time of need. Being stranded in a vehicle in winter weather can be a challenging, not to mention potentially fatal, situation and this app may literally become a lifesaver for someone.”

To access the application through the Texas Eden website, click on the Hot Topics tab at http://texashelp.tamu.edu.  For other website materials relating to winter weather, click the Disaster Information tab on the home page and go to Winter Storm Resources.