For must of us in the northern parts of the United States and the world we experience some pretty harsh winters on occasion.
Winter travel, especially by passenger cars (mini-vans and some trucks), is serious business. You should always carry a winter survival kit.
For those who live in eastern Pennsylvania like I do, you may be well aware of the 2007 Winter Storm that shutdown a major interstate (I-78).
Winter storm leaves freezing temperatures, mounds of snow behind
February 2nd 2007
In Pennsylvania, National Guard vehicles loaded with food, water, baby supplies and fuel delivered help to hundreds of motorists stranded on Interstate 78 Wednesday night and Thursday morning while crews try clear up a 50-mile backup on the icy, hilly highway.
The Guard began helping the motorists at about 9 p.m. Wednesday and was still at it more than 12 hours later, said Lt. Col. Chris Cleaver, a Guard spokesman.
Your kit can be as extensive as you want, but you should include these items which would allow you to survive 12 – 24 hours (and sometimes more, if needed) without the benefit of the car heater.
- One sleeping bag, rated for your area. Also include at least two blankets for every person in the automobile. We highly recommended a 100% pure wool or wool blend blanket.
- Three-pound metal coffee can (or lightweight camping pot) which can be used to heat water
- Matches (preferably waterproof) and candles (preferably 9 hour or longer). Using one of the blankets over your head, body heat and the heat from a single candle can prevent freezing.
- A quality flashlight and extra batteries. Great for signaling help or finding dropped items in your vehicle or home at night when there is no lighting. We recommend the Fenix flashlight in a AA battery. Having a quality, multi-lumen flashlight with a standard, easy to find battery such as the AA is ideal for any kit, not just your automobile winter survival kit.
- Winter clothing such as; caps, mittens, heavy wool socks, gloves, coveralls, thermal underwear, etc. All of these items can be old or out-of-style items no longer worn.Also please limit the amount of cotton clothing to store in your winter survival kit as cotton does not wick moisture as well as wool and polypropylene (synthetic wool-like material).
- First aid kit, including any special medications for you and your travelers.
- Bottled water. It will probably freeze, so allow expansion room in the container. Best to use Camelbak or Platypus water carriers.
- High-energy foods – candy, nuts, raisins, peanut butter, sugar cubes, packaged condensed soups and hot chocolate. Since you have a pot to boil water you may also want to look into MRE’s (Meal Ready to Eat), Wise Food, Camp’n Trail, Mountain House, etc.
- Small sack of sand or kitty litter, which is good for traction, and can double for vehicle fluid leaks.
- Shovel – One with a flat blade is preferable. Use caution in shoveling snow, as overexertion is not advisable in a survival situation, especially in the winter when perspiration can kill you with outdoor temperatures start to plummet.
- Basic tool kit, to include pliers, screwdrivers, adjustable wrench, duck tape, regular tape and wire.
- Paper towels and/or toilet tissue, good for their designed purpose as well as for emergency fire starter.
- Axe or saw, excellent for cutting wood for fire or branches to place under stuck tires for traction. Also can be used to clear the road if you need to.
- Tow chain or strap. Also, a come-along is a very handy device to recover your own vehicle.
- Spare tire. One with air works best. Check your spare tire every three months to ensure the proper PSI.
- Wire and rope (550 paracord), which have a multitude of uses, including automotive repair.
- Starter fluid, extra oil, gas line deicer and battery booster cables.
- Signaling devices, such as railroad flares, which can be seen for miles. Also consider chemlights because they are non-flammable especially around vehicles.
- Extra cell phone batteries and car charger.