Many people new to prepping, or even those just setting out on their own for the first time find the thought of preparing for major winter storms overwhelming. I get this entirely. The key is to break it down into manageable chunks and deal with one chunk before you move onto the next. Today we lookout your vehicle and what you need to think about when travelling around in winter.
We cannot guarantee that a storm will come late Friday when we are all safely at home so any vehicle in use should have an emergency ‘extreme weather kit’ in the trunk and a few extra supplies inside the car so lets take a look at that first.
You need to make sure that should your car become your home for a couple of days that it’s up for the job. Your vehicle should be well maintained and have appropriate tires. You also need to be mentally prepared for spending time in the vehicle, not knowing when rescue will come?the traffic will start moving again.
A serious accident can see tail-backs miles and miles long and in heavy falling snow this can turn into a life threatening situation very quickly for those stuck in the traffic without out adequate fuel, clothing and food. Knowing that you have the equipment and supplies to survive such a situation will make you calmer should disaster strike. You won’t be worrying about eating or freezing to death which means you can concentrate on the task in hand: Getting yourself out of the situation or sitting it out with relative ease.
So, what do you need to have with you? Some items are obvious, some not so obvious:
- A shovel preferably a strong but lightweight folding one.
- Windshield scraper and small broom
- Flashlight with extra batteries or dynamo/wind up flashlight
- Battery powered radio or dynamo/battery radio
- Tow chains and/ropes
- Tire chains if allowed in your area
- Booster cables
- Emergency reflective triangle or sign
- Flares if your route uses back roads,/remote areas
- Full first aid kit
- Rock salt/grit/cat litter for putting under wheels to aid traction.
- Distress flag/ bright bandana to attract attention.
- Whistle to attract attention
- A largish card with your name and cell number written on it. If you leave the vehicle add your direction of travel, the date and the time you left the vehicle. Leave this in the car
- Matches, lighter and small tea light candles packed into a small wide necked jar. The candle can be put into the bottom of the jar and stood on the dashboard to give a gentle light that can be seen from a considerable distance. Have your window open just a crack to make sure no fumes build up. This also applies if you run the engine for even just a few minutes.
- Keep the gas tank topped up.
- Any daily required prescription medications.
- Phone comparable power pack capable of at least 3 full charges of your phone.
- Baby wipes for personal hygiene.
- Half a dozen good quality heavy gauge plastic bags big enough to ‘go’ in if the call of nature can’t be stalled any longer.
- A dozen bright strips of fabric with your name and cell number written on them in permanent marker: If you are in a remote area and have to leave your vehicle there are decent markers and can be tied to tree branches alerting rescuers to the fact that you are there and your direction of travel.
- A couple of thick fleece blankets and/or a sleeping bag.
- Sweat top and pants big enough to go over your regular clothes.
- Wool socks, boot type big enough to go on easily.
- Hat preferably with ear flaps, mittens and scarf
- Thick tread knee high rubber boots in case for any reason you end up having to walk out.
- Water and pouch fruit juice drinks
- Bag of your chosen trail mix
- High energy snack bars
- Couple of packs of cookies
- Hard candy
- Few individual bags of dried fruit and/or nuts
- Couple of high calorie chocolate bars, Snickers, Mars bars or similar
The exhaust/tail pipe has to be kept free of snow otherwise fumes will back up into the vehicle every time you run the engine. A sure way to get carbon monoxide poisoning
Bonus tip: Pee contains urea and peeing or tipping your makeshift pee bag out under the exhaust/tailpipe of the vehicle after you’ve cleared it will not only melt the remaining snow but prevent more snow building in that area keeping the pipe snow free for a considerable time.
Packing most of the kit into a hiking style back pack is the best option because if for any reason you have to walk out of the situation you can take it with you. On your journey try to have it inside the vehicle, it can go in the trunk whilst you’re at work and get slipped back into the vehicle for the trip home.
The folding shovel should be able to attach to the pack via velcro or a lanyard in case you have to leave the vehicle. Should you have to leave your vehicle put on the spare clothes you have with you, you can always take them off if you are too hot and better that than get hypothermia and/or frostbite. The rubber boots will protect your feet and lower legs from the worst of the weather.
Mittens are better than gloves as your hands retain more heat. The scarf should be wrapped around your mouth and nose to reduce the cold air entering your body and to protect your nose from frostbite. Make sure your ears are covered as they are also susceptible to frost bite.
As soon as you become stuck you need to let someone know where you are. In remote areas, in cases of accident or of a breakdown this should be 911 (999 UK) first and then a family member. Tell them where you are and what the issue is and when you hang up turn off the phone to save the battery. Now is not the time to see if there is a Pokemon near the vehicle.
The standard advice is to stay with your vehicle, it gives you some protection from the weather but on occasions that’s just not possible. Remember if you leave the vehicle be sure to:
- Leave the card with the date and time as well as direction of travel.
- Wear as many of the clothes as you can without impeding your ability to move comfortably.
- Take the food and drink with you.
- Do not eat snow it will lower your core temperature and can speed up the onset of hypothermia.
- Mark the route you take with the cloth strips.
- In wooded areas walk in the centre of the road there will be less hazards than there are near the tree line. Think animals, hidden tree roots and uneven ground.
I hope you found this useful.