Winterizing your home in case of an emergency snow-in is one major task you should attend to before winter, but you must also consider the possibility of being stranded inside your vehicle during a snowstorm. Assembling a "winter survival kit" for your car is one of the best ways to prepare, and there are many items you would do well to include. Here are our tips for the 5 most important things to include in your survival kit:
A warm blanket or sleeping bag that covers your whole body will be essential if you are trapped in sub-zero conditions for many hours. Also include extra winter hats, gloves, and scarves. Finally, stock a few pairs of warm socks to change into if those you are wearing become wet, sweaty, or simply aren't warm enough.
Store two or more gallons of pure drinking water along with small packages of food that can be eaten without being heated. Don't rely on canned goods unless you use pull-open lids or include a can opener and silverware in a sealed plastic bag. Store snack foods like raisins, trail mix, energy bars, and small candy bars.
A Small, Fluorescent Flag
If your vehicle becomes stuck in the snow, tie a small, brightly colored flag onto your car's antenna or drape it out of the side window. Fluorescent flags are more visible at night, particularly if your dome or head lights are reflecting light off of it. To save the battery, only use your emergency flashers as potential rescue vehicles approach, but always have your flag out and always have at least one vehicle occupant awake and watching.
A Cell Phone Car Adapter
Most cell phone models have a car adapter available that will plug into the lighter socket and charge your phone while traveling and during an emergency. Calling 911, police, or friends and relatives will often shorten your emergency situation by many hours. Bringing your cell phone and being able to charge it while stranded can even be critical to survival if the weather outside is sufficiently severe. Should you want to conserve car battery, it’s also a good idea to travel with a portable cell phone charger.
An Emergency Distress Sign
Pre-make a poster board sign with your name, address, and phone number written on it in large characters. Also bring a permanent marker so you can add your destination to the sign if you need to leave your vehicle. While staying put in the shelter of your car is normally best, if you must leave, put the sign in the windshield so rescue searchers can find you if necessary.
Place your winter survival kit under a passenger seat, if possible, in case the trunk becomes frozen or jammed shut. Also, always keep at least a half tank of gas during winter driving, and always let someone know where you are going and what route you will take. Finally, if you bring a shovel, do not overexert yourself and avoid getting clothing wet unless you have extra clothes with you. Shoveling in low temperatures greatly increases the chances of a heart attack, and wet clothes cannot insulate you and may lead to hypothermia.
Keeping a well-stocked winter survival kit in your vehicle and following basic safety tips will do much to maximize your odds while stranded in your car during a snowstorm. These kits are relatively cheap, easy to assemble, and not infrequently save people's lives.