In many parts of North America, winter has crept over the landscape. Most conscientious drivers have had their vehicle in for its winter tune-up and mounted snow tires. With the preparation of their vehicle, drivers have mentally shifted to driving in adverse weather conditions. However, to be fully prepared for the rigours of winter, there is one more step that motorists need to take to be fully prepared for everything that "Ole Man Winter" can dish out – a winter survival kit!
Any time you travel beyond the boundaries of an urban centre, you should stock your vehicle with some or all of the following items:
Items to dig or pull out your vehicle
- Tow rope
Items to stay warm
- Warm clothing
- Snow Pants
- Undershirt & Long Johns
- Candle & Lighter (Keep a lighter in your kit due to the fact that matches won't work if these get damp!)
- Ice scraper – will allow you to see and be seen
- Charged Cell phone
- Flares or reflective triangles
Items for survival
- Candle (use a candle for light & heat due to the fact that a flashlight's batteries will run out just when you need these!)
- Pot for melting snow
- ¼ tank of fuel
- Non-perishable foods:
- Granola Bars
- Dried fruits and vegetables
- Medications & first aid kit
- Bottled water
If you are venturing any distance from an urban area in winter, your vehicle should be stocked with items that will allow you to survive for 12 to 72 hours in the event of becoming stranded.
First and foremost, before heading out in inclement weather, ensure that all snow and ice is removed from the windows and lights – so an ice scraper and snow brush are in order.
Next, ensure that you're cell phone is fully charged or that you have the charger in the vehicle that will allow you to call for help in the event of a breakdown or becoming stranded.
Most importantly, any medications that you are taking must be in the vehicle with you. Packing your medications is essential when travelling on remote roads and highways during the winter. Quite literally, medications may mean the difference between life and death.
In the event that your vehicle becomes stuck in the snow, you will require a shovel to dig out the vehicle. As well, sand, chains and perhaps salt will provide some extra traction that can potentially help you to get your vehicle moving again.
Finally, the "survival" and "stay warm" items on the list will allow you to wait out a storm in the event that your vehicle becomes stuck and you are stranded. Non-perishable food items, a candle for heat and to melt snow, and a pot are essential. Warm blankets and clothing will allow you to stay warm while you wait out the storm.
Under no circumstances should you leave the vehicle. Wait in the vehicle for help. The vehicle provides shelter and your chances of survival are much, much greater. If you run the engine for warmth and heat, roll a window down so that you re not overcome by carbon monoxide. Do not run the vehicle for more than 10 minutes at a time. In keeping with this point, you must have adequate fuel; therefore, in the winter, do not allow the fuel tank to run below ¼ tank.
Also, by keeping the tank above ¼ tank, you reduce the chance of the fuel lines freezing.
With a little preparation and forethought, winter commutes can be enjoyable and adventurous. Ensure that your vehicle is stocked with supplies that will allow you to survive anything that Ole' Man Winter may throw your way.