There are just a few more things to add to the trunk before taking off on your trip during winter weather months. I received a note for a reader who said there would be no room in the trunk for anything else if they put all these items in. He is wrong, but who said it all had to be in the trunk. We all have a glove box, pockets on the back of seats and pockets on the doors where small items can be stored, in fact many are better stored inside the car. I guess the real question is; are you sure you can survive a day or more stranded in cold weather if you don’t have these items? How much room is the life of your family worth to you? We never think this can happen to us but I have been caught off guard and so have many of my friends. It can happen to you!!
□ Small candle: If placed on the dash, this will help keep the air in the car above freezing. Don’t go to sleep and leave it lit. You can also run your car engine for 10 minutes every hour to warm the car and charge the phone. Make sure before running the engine that the tail pipe is not blocked. Also, leave a window slightly open on the downwind side of the car (facing away from the wind) for ventilation, but where the air is fresh and free of carbon monoxide from the auto exhaust (which is poisonous).
□ Wool blanket: You should have one per seat in your car. If you have some bench seats and also some club seating, each seat needs a blanket in a survival situation.
□ Mylar emergency blankets: These have dozens of uses from creating warmth to blocking wind, to use as a signaling device.
□ Knit cap and mittens: Most of your body heat is lost through your head, so the cap is important. Mittens are warmer than gloves. Remember wool or man-made fibers are better in cold/wet weather than cotton. Keeping your body core warm is the most important you have to do in a freeze.
□ Body warmers – the instant heat type. Make sure when purchasing these that you buy the ones rated for 20 hours, not 20 minutes. These are small and easy to stash in your auto emergency kit.
□ A whistle can be heard much further away than the human voice. I would have at least 2 in the car. If one member of your party needs to leave to look for help, you can signal each other every few minutes and help guide them back to the car. It is not wise for anyone to leave alone and go further away than “whistle distance.” It is just too easy to become disoriented and lost.
□ A Flashlight with extra batteries and an extra bulb… Never store the batteries in the flashlight – even the fancy Alkaline batteries can leak or explode inside your flashlight, leaving you surprised to find your flashlight useless in an emergency.
□ A portable radio is great to hear news and weather reports without draining your car battery. Make sure you have both AM and FM bands. Look for the ones that are also a flashlight and siren. Hand cranked power is also good.
□ Tool kit: How sad to be stranded for lack of a screwdriver or wrench. A multi function tool is also a good alternative.
□ Tow rope: Some people who could help pull you out of the ditch are not equipped with a rope. Think of how smart you will look, when you say “I’ve got one!” We’re not talking about a wimpy little rope, we mean a hefty tow strap or real sisal rope like a trucker might carry. Ropes are also important when creating a shelter if you can’t remain in your car.
□ Maps: Do you pay attention to where you are when traveling? If you don’t know where you are, how will you find where you want to go? Maps should include local, state, and destination maps when traveling. A travel club is really handy for these, now that most people take GPS for granted.
□ Compass: A Scout would know what to do with it. Do you?
□ Roll of TP: One of life’s essentials.
□ Fire extinguisher . What good is your emergency gear if it’s burning up with the car? More than once, we’ve seen cars fully ablaze at the side of the highway, and not from a traffic accident. Gasoline + heat + leaking fuel line = fire.
□ 12-foot Jumper Cables just in case help should arrive and not be able to get bumper to bumper for a jump start.
□ Two quarts of oil.
□ Gallon of antifreeze. Antifreeze also burns well and is perfect to use as a signal fire.
□ Extra fuses.
□ Rags can be soaked to start a fire, to clean up, or for blocking cracks in doors and windows keeping out cold winds.
□ Roll of duct tape: What did the world do before duct tape?
□ Ice scraper to keep windows clear so you can see rescuers as well as dangers approaching.
□ Wool socks. Keeping dry is very, very important to survival when stranded during the winter. Change socks that become wet and dry the wet ones near a fire or in the engine compartment.
□ Sweatshirt or coat. When your core gets cold your body will draw heat from your limbs to protect your vital organs. This leads to frostbite.
□ Warm hat that covers your ears.
□ Sunglasses. Sun blindness is a real problem when traveling in the snow.
□ Completed Emergency Cards with medical and contact information. If you are stranded for a few days you may be too tired to remember this information when help arrives.
□ Small notebook and pencil to leave notes should you have to leave your car. DO NOT LEAVE unless you are in real danger.
□ A tarp is great to have on hand to lay over the snow when putting on chains or changing a tire. They are also great to have on hand to build a shelter.
□ Items for children (for a select few of you): Stress relievers such as a book, travel games, crossword puzzles and scriptures. It is important to have items to distract your attention so you aren’t constantly thinking about your situation.
The weather is forecast to be very cold, icy and snowy between now and the New Year. Preparing will insure a safe, if not uneventful, trip.