While Florida residents bemoan gas prices, northerners are facing some serious troubles this season. Every winter, some families are stuck in blizzards in the northern states. It can happen more easily than you think. You head out on your way home, you swerve to avoid a deer, and your car lands in a small ditch leaving you stuck. You check your phone, and you’ve got 10% battery and no signal. What now? Always prepare for winter driving by having the following things in mind.
How to prepare:
Get gas frequently. Drive with three-quarters of gas in the tank in the cold months. In an emergency, you’ll need to have as much gasoline as possible to heat your vehicle. Don’t try to save money by running the tank down low.
Pack blankets. You’ll need one wool or fleece blanket per passenger in the car. Extra socks are good too. Keep these in the car at all times.
Make sure you have emergency food. Dried fruits and beef jerky are great. Clif bars and other non-perishable yet non-canned items are ideal too. Keep them in a hard cooler so that they do not freeze.
Stay hydrated. Keep bottled water inside your hard cooler as well. You will not be able to drive around with enough bottled water for each passenger in the case of a long wait in a blizzard, so keep a container that you could melt snow in to get additional drinking water.
Be visible. Keep flares in your car. Especially if your cell phone can not get signal, you’ll need these to get attention and make yourself visible. Hang any bright clothing you have outside the car.
Keep your seat belt on. Other drivers in winter conditions might run off the road and hit you.
Crack your back window slightly. Oftentimes the tail pipe is obstructed by snow, which can cause deadly carbon monoxide fumes to get into the vehicle when the engine is running. Be careful with your air supply.
Turn on your engine for 10 – 15 minutes each hour. This will let you melt snow for water and warm up. It will also conserve the life of the battery.
Stay in your vehicle. Only leave your vehicle if 1) You know exactly where you are and you are sure you could walk to safety easily or 2) It is your last resort and you will not survive if you stay in your vehicle.
Carry hand warmers. These are an excellent alternative to lighting a fire—which is very hard to do in a vehicle. For a 72 hour period, keep at least 15 hand warmers per person.
Careful forethought can avoid terrible disasters in norther states. For the rest of us in the warmer states, let’s be thankful our biggest complaints driving this season are the gas prices and the occasional chill in the air.