As we prepare this, an “arctic air invasion” is pushing its way into Freeport, leaving much of the region bitterly cold on this late December winter’s day. Twenty to twenty-five below after just coming from a week in the 40’s.
With the weather this cold right now, during an emergency is a lousy time to think of all the things we should have been carrying in our car while we’re traveling. Thinking of precautions and preparations, and the impending cold spell, let’s look at a few of the more important items to carry with you when preparing for cold weather travel in your car. A lot of these items you can find at your local Carquest store, like the one in Freeport.
First, check your car. Winter travel can be tough on car and driver, to prepare:
- Check your tires and make sure your chains fit before the first winter storm and check tire pressure during cold weather. Remember, tire shops and mechanics are busiest just before and during winter storms.
- Get a vehicle winter maintenance check-up. Don’t wait to check your battery, belts, hoses, radiator, lights, brakes, heater/defroster and wipers.
- Keep your fuel tank full — don’t let it fall below half a tank on winter trips.
Everyone should carry a Winter Survival Kit in their car. Here is what you need:
- a shovel
- bag of cat litter isn’t a bad idea (if you get stuck)
- windshield scraper and small broom
- can of fix a flat, spare and jack and lug wrench
- flashlight with extra batteries
- battery powered radio
- small air compressor
- notepad and pencil or pen
- simple tools, screwdrivers, vice grips, duct tape, adjustable wrench, pliers
- snack food including energy bars
- raisins and mini candy bars
- consider getting a few MRE’s
- matches and small candles
- tin can(s) (can be used to store heat)
- extra hats, socks and mittens
- First aid kit with pocket knife
- Necessary medications
- blankets or sleeping bag
- tow chain or rope
- road salt, sand, or cat litter for traction
- booster cables
- emergency flares and reflectors
- fluorescent distress flag and whistle to attract attention
- Cell phone adapter to plug into lighter
- Store items in the passenger compartment in case the trunk is jammed or frozen shut.
- Choose small packages of food that you can eat hot or cold.
- If possible, call 911 on your cell phone. Provide your location, condition of everyone in the vehicle and the problem you’re experiencing.
- Follow instructions: you may be told to stay where you are until help arrives.
- Do not hang up until you know who you have spoken with and what will happen next.
- If you must leave the vehicle, write down your name, address, phone number and destination. Place the piece of paper inside the front windshield for someone to see.
- Prepare your vehicle: Make sure you keep your gas tank at least half full.
- Be easy to find: Tell someone where you are going and the route you will take.
- If stuck: Tie a florescent flag (from your kit) on your antenna or hang it out the window. At night, keep your dome light on. Rescue crews can see a small glow at a distance. To reduce battery drain, use emergency flashers only if you hear approaching vehicles. If you’re with someone else, make sure at least one person is awake and keeping watch for help at all times.
- Stay in your vehicle: Walking in a storm can be very dangerous. You might become lost or exhausted. Your vehicle is a good shelter.
- Avoid Overexertion: Shoveling snow or pushing your car takes a lot of effort in storm conditions. Don’t risk a heart attack or injury. That work can also make you hot and sweaty. Wet clothing loses insulation value, making you susceptible to hypothermia.
- Fresh Air: It’s better to be cold and awake than comfortably warm and sleepy. Snow can plug your vehicle’s exhaust system and cause deadly carbon monoxide gas to enter your car. Only run the engine for 10 minutes an hour and make sure the exhaust pipe is free of snow. Keeping a window open a crack while running the engine is also a good idea.
- Don’t expect to be comfortable: You want to survive until you’re found.
Perhaps a tad extensive for any Freeport adventure of any kind but it never hurts to be prepared.