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Monday, January 4, 2010

Winter Travel by Car…Part 1

None of us plan to get into trouble, but for the unfortunate or careless, trouble finds them anyway. A student driving home for Christmas at the end of Fall semester takes a wrong turn and ends up stranded on a dark freezing night. Or a family who cannot leave for Grandma’s house until Christmas Eve because the breadwinner has to work until the last minute, heads out into a snowstorm with the kids in the back seat. Does this sound like you, or someone you care about? Take time now for serious thought about what is in your trunk that can save your family’s life if you are caught by extensive traffic delays, spin out and land in a snowbank, or just run out of gas on a cold lonely road.
Let’s take inventory and clear out the “junk in the trunk”, so we can bring out the stuff that will save your life – the things you need in your Winter Auto Kit.
Water is the most important item in your auto kit. You can survive days and even weeks without food but only a few days without water. Without water you may be tempted to eat snow. NEVER do that. Water stored in your car will be clean and safe when other sources may not be. If your water should freeze, it can be thawed. Water in mylar pouches can be heated near a fire or in the engine compartment when you run your engine. Running an engine for 10 minutes every hour will help prevent frostbite and will be adequate to help charge a cell phone, assuming you have a charger.
Food is the second most important item to include in all auto kits.  During a winter emergency your body will retain body heat and create more warmth as it digests food.
Glow sticks can provide light during the nighttime hours and make you more visible to rescuers. I love the 10-inch glow sticks that are sold with a bipod. These are great to use in place of flares, to mark a path, to direct traffic after an accident, or during an emergency to signal rescuers at night. They can be seen for a mile.
Work gloves are needed if you change a tire, put on chains, or dig your wheels out of the mud or snow.
Snow chains, sand or kitty litter help with traction if your car spins out in the snow.
Bungee Cords have a million uses for building shelter and securing your car.
A small camp shovel is great to build a snow cave, or dig your car out of a snowbank.
Waterproof matches or lighter. Priceless.
A metal container to melt snow. A number 10 can works well for this and is a handy way to store small items.
A mirror or extra mylar blanket can be used to signal rescuers.
Umbrella: Instant shelter and protection from the wind. Umbrellas make a good door for a shelter.
Safety vests to be worn so you can be more easily seen by rescuers or while near the roadway (bright orange vests, cheap ones). You will all be safer if you need to leave the car, and each passenger wears one. These can also be attached to your car as a distress signal.
Cell phone charger for the car.
More Ideas tomorrow….for today, begin gathering the items you have around the house and place them into the trunk.

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