With the first hint of winter weather I begin preparing my car for travel on winter roads. My line of work requires me to travel by automobile several thousands of miles each year regardless of weather or road conditions. Often my route carries me over rural, secondary roads that are often left un-maintained during winter storm events. The risk of being stranded here during a winter storm could be life threatening. For this reason I do everything I can to prepare for such travel.
The first line of defense is to have a working cell phone from which emergency assistance may be called. In addition. A GPS system can help rescue personal pinpoint location once coordinates are given. However, even once a call for help has been sent survival often depends on how quickly search and rescue personnel can reach your location. During widespread and unusually heavy storms this can take 24 hours or more. This makes it imperative that you be prepared to survive until help arrives.
Perhaps the most significant preparation I make is to prepare a winter emergency kit which I store in the trunk of my car.
I store the items for my emergency kit in a plastic laundry basket. The kit includes items which can make the difference in life or death in the event I find myself stalled in a snow bank on some isolated rural road. The kit contains the following:
Wool Blankets: I keep two, 100% wool blankets in the bottom of the basket. While sheltered from the wind, ice and/or freezing rain in the interior of an automobile these blankets can provide warmth sufficient to keep one from freezing or dying from exposure. If you keep nothing else in your car during winter driving keep blankets.
Kitty Liter: I keep four ponds of kitty liter in my trunk during the entire winter season. I have kitty liter when sprinkled in front of the driven wheels of the car can often provide sufficient traction to allow the car to pull free when stuck in ice or snow.
I have found a convenient way to store the kitty liter is in two 34 ounce, plastic, coffee containers. I take the time to drill ¼ inch holes at one inch intervals across the top of the container. This allows me to evenly spread the liter as I use the container like a salt shaker to evenly distribute the liter.
A Working Flashlight: When one is stranded in the dark and cold a beam of light can not only provide a great deal of comfort it also can help in locating objects in the dark. More importantly, the flashlight can be used to signal nearby help that may be searching for storm survivors.
One Gallon Of Fresh Water: During extended periods of isolation this small amount of water can become invaluable to preventing dehydration.
Two Boxes of Granola Bars (12 Bars): These high energy bars can provide sufficient nourishment and calories to help one survive for 3-4 days.
One Box of Wooden Matches: In the worse case scenario a car lost in a snow storm could be stranded for days. Once the automobile runs out of fuel and can no longer provide a heat source a warming fire may be the difference in survival or failure to survive in sub-freezing temperatures.
Taking the time to make these simple preparations can make winter travel less stressful and increase your chance of survival should you experience the misfortune of being stranded roadside during blizzard or white-out conditions.
Take the time to prepare and perhaps save a life…..yours.