Survival experts stress traveling smart in snowy northern Arizona

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PHOENIX -- If you're traveling across the Southwest this winter, the last place you want to be is stranded.

Survival expert Pete Walka of the Flagstaff Field Institute has three tips that can keep you alive in a worst-case scenario. First, pack some food and water.

Arizona State University senior Lauren Weinberg was stuck for nine days in a remote part of Coconino County. Her only food was two candy bars. She stayed hydrated by melting snow into her water bottle.

"You really need to have that stuff in your vehicle and be prepared for a situation whenever you're traveling in northern Arizona when snow is possible," Walka said.

Second, pack your phone charger so if you're buried in a snowdrift like the one that swallowed the car of a family of three in northern New Mexico, you can call for help like they did. After two days, rescuers reached them, only by digging through to the driver's side window.

Finally, stay put and remember Dana Davis. The 86-year-old was driving from the East Valley back to his home in Albuquerque with his wife, Betty, when they tried to take a shortcut through the forest near Globe. They stayed in their car for five days before the gas tank ran dry and they tried to walk to safety. Dana made it, but Betty collapsed and died.

"If you do get stuck, stay where you are," Walka said. "You have the shelter of your vehicle and it's much easier to find a car than to find an individual, say, walking through the woods."