Are You Prepared For A Winter Roadside Emergency?
By Adelia Ladson
If you're one of those poor souls who have to commute to work from one city to another, the stakes are higher if you have a roadside emergency during the winter months. The key is to be prepared with knowledge and tools. Having an emergency kit in your automobile is absolutely necessary if you live in an area where you get winter storms. You may never use it but don’t ever be in a situation where you're stranded, and you wish you had it.
Your first concern when you're broken down on the side of the road in the winter or stranded on the road because of a blizzard is to stay warm. If you shed any cold weather accessories like a scarf, hat or gloves, now is the time to put them back on. You can keep your car running for increments of time without fear of carbon monoxide poisoning as long as you make sure that your tailpipe is clear of snow. Periodically check for this. You will need to turn your engine off for periods of time to conserve gas. You don't want to run out of gas. During the times your engine is turned off or if your engine isn't working, it's critical that you retain your body heat. Even though you're protected from the precipitation and the windchill, you're not protected from the temperature drop in your vehicle. This is where having a sufficiently supplied vehicle emergency kit comes in. The first thing that goes in your kit is a Large Heavyweight Wool Blanket. The inherent properties of wool fibers allow them to hold air so that the blanket resists heat flow out, which makes it the ultimate insulation. Also, have some chemical hand warmers and foot warmers, which will usually last about 9 to 10 hours. You should also move your arms, hands, legs and feet vigorously, about every hour, to improve your circulation.
Your next concern is keeping hydrated because it will also help you retain body heat. Whether it’s winter or summer, you should be in the habit of bringing a few bottles of water with you, when you're commuting, anyway. If you don't have water, you can always melt snow, which is easy enough to do with the right tools. You should never just eat snow because it will definitely lower you body temperature. To me, the right tools that you have in your vehicle emergency kit are Trailblazer's Camping Stove and a couple of packs of solid fuel cubes. The stove is really compact, and the fuel is no-mess, no-smoke. Obviously, you also need to make sure that you have a reliable way to start a fire. Waterproof matches are always a good way to go. A small container to melt the snow in like Trailblazer's Stainless Steel Mug rounds-out your snow-melting tools. If you have a larger container with a top in your kit, you can store the water so that you can waiter longer before you have to get back out of your car to melt snow to drink.
If you're broken down on the side of the road and call for help, make sure that you have already taken complete stock of exactly where you're located. Note landscape features, especially, if you're in a remote area. You need to be able to relay as accurately as possible where you are once you get on your cell. You also need to make sure that your cell phone stays charged so you need to include some kind of power bank in your emergency kit. I like the Trailblazer Solar Charger/Power Bank. It has two USB outputs and a micro-USB input, plus, a bright LED flashlight. Then, you need to make sure your vehicle is easy to find for rescuers. Flameless road flares are great because they’ll last for hours and hours. Turn on your hazard lights when you hear rescuers nearby and, if at night, turn on your interior lights. Beware, however, of running your car battery down. Another good thing to have in your car is a piece of bright-colored plastic that you can hang out of your window or tie to your antenna. Just get one of those cheap orange plastic table cloths to keep in your vehicle emergency kit.
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