As we approach the holiday season, your thoughts may be focused on the family gatherings you have planned, the delicious food that will warm your belly, the gifts you will exchange with your loved ones, and the beautiful lights and decorations that will fill your home with joy. But there is something else that should be added to your list. Traveling safely. Winter storms can come on suddenly. It only takes a few short minutes for a light dusting of snow to turn into a raging blizzard. A few moments are all it takes to be stuck and those moments can turn into hours, or even days until help arrives. Preparing your vehicle now for winter can help ensure you have the items you need when the storm boxes you in. Pull together items from around the house to build a winter car kit. You most likely have these items already at home. Try to include the following, or look at these emergency kits:
• High Protein Snacks such as MRE’s, Trail Mix, Peanut Butter, Freeze Dried Meats etc. - The protein will help you maintain your core temperature.
• 3 Days of Water
• Cell Phone and Charger that doesn’t require you to use your car.
• Blankets or Sleeping Bags
• Hand Warmers
• Extra Clothing/Coats/Winter Boots/Hats/Gloves etc.
• Traction Pads/Sand/Tire Chains/Kitty Litter
• Folding Shovel
• Jumper Cables - Or better yet, a Jump Starter so you don’t need a second vehicle.
• Tow Rope
• Flashlight/Glowsticks/Road Markers
• Duct Tape
• 50 feet of Paracord
• Fire Starter and Metal Cup - For melting snow
• First Aid Kit
During the winter, especially, keep your gas tank full. You’ll be able to keep your car running when needed with a full tank. Travel during the day when possible and use well-traveled roads. A stranded vehicle is more likely to be seen as the roads are cleared during and after the storm. Tell someone of your travel plans, of when you are leaving and hope to arrive. If you miss your deadlines, they can call for help. If you do become stranded, you’ll need to run your engine for 10 minutes every 45-60 minutes to keep your engine from freezing and to give you some much needed heat from the heater. Make sure to keep your exhaust pipe clear of snow to prevent the buildup of carbon monoxide, but don’t leave the vehicle unnecessarily. If you must leave your vehicle, use the paracord to tie yourself to the car. It only takes a few feet in a blizzard to become lost. With the rope, you’ll always have a way back.
Remember the safest option is always to remain with your vehicle. It provides shelter and warmth and often times, is much easier to find than a person wandering around the woods. Stay safe this season by being prepared. A little bit of time and prep today can mean the difference between life and death later on.