Before getting out on the roads this winter, it’s important to be prepared for a car breakdown situation and know what to do should you find yourself in one.

Picture the scene. You’re driving along country roads in the middle of winter. It’s cold, dark and you haven’t seen the lights of another vehicle for what feels like forever. Suddenly your car coughs, splutters, and rolls to a complete stop. It’s something you don’t think will ever happen to you, until it does. What do you do? What are the steps? How are you going to explain to someone exactly where you are? Nobody wants to be stuck stranded by the side of the road when the thermometer is hovering just above zero. Follow these simple steps below to ensure you and your car can be recovered quickly and safely.

1. Download what3words before you drive

The first thing to do, when preparing for a drive in winter, is to check you’ve got the free what3words app downloaded on your phone. Of course we’d say that, but we say it with good reason. If you wait until the moment you actually need it, you might not have the signal to download it. Do it before you set off. The app itself works offline, meaning that even when you can’t connect to the internet you can still pinpoint your exact location to a 3 metre square.

2. Follow recommended safety steps

Before finding and communicating your what3words address to a breakdown service provider, ensure you’re in a safe place. The AA recommends moving your vehicle off the road if possible, watching out for soft verges as you do so, and wearing a high-vis jacket – if you have one – while waiting outside the vehicle. If you’re not on a motorway, the AA also recommends placing a warning triangle at least 45 metres behind your vehicle. For more from the AA on what to do in a breakdown situation, head here .

3. Find out exactly where you are

Once you’ve tackled the above, and you’re safely positioned, you can open up the what3words app and find out exactly where you are. In the app, tap the icon above satellite mode and you’ll see a what3words address display at the top of your screen. Please wait for the blue dot to stabilise to ensure you’re noting down the most accurate what3words address possible. Being precise at this moment will save time in the long run.

4. Communicate your what3words location

We currently have seven official breakdown partners in the UK that accept what3words. They are the AA, Green Flag, Call Assist, RAC Bescot, LV, RNWL and National Breakdown. These service providers aren’t all using what3words in exactly the same way, but they do all encourage drivers to give a what3words address when they’re asking for roadside assistance. Other breakdown providers are also aware of what3words, and have drivers who can access the app, so it’s always worth giving a what3words address.

Be sure to tell your friends and family about what3words as well. The more people who have our app on their phone when driving this winter, the less likely we are to have drivers stranded in the middle of nowhere with no way to explain their location. As always, stay safe on the roads!