Mystery Mondays: Winter Car Kit

Winter snows have arrived in Northern Arizona! Over the weekend, I was dying to get outside and just “do stuff” but the best I could manage was letting Lily, the EatStayPlay.com Mascot, drag me around the block. I’m not really a big fan of the white-stuff, but I know a lot of people are. And those people will be heading to Flagstaff in DROVES over the coming weeks.

That’s why, in this week’s “Mystery Mondays” post, I wanted to share with you an article about a Winter Car Kit to keep you safe.

The last time I was in Flagstaff to look at the snow (again, I don’t actually TOUCH the stuff!) I watched a party of four vehicles being rescued from the snow. So, I started planning an article about what you can do to minimize your risk when you’re out enjoying the snow. These people who were rescued were NOT caught in a storm. The day was sunny and mild. But, they got stuck in the snow anyway. Luckily, there were along AZ Hwy 180 so they didn’t have to wait for help. But what if they had been someplace not as accessible? Would they have been prepared? Are YOU prepared?

Read on!

Winter storms are considered deceptive killers… because most deaths are indirectly related to the storm:

  • People die in traffic accidents on icy roads.
  • People die of hypothermia from prolonged exposure to cold.

First off, your car’s in good working order, right? Each fall you should have the radiator system serviced, or check the antifreeze level yourself with an antifreeze tester. Add antifreeze, as needed. Replace your windshield-wiper fluid with a wintertime mixture and replace any worn tires, and check the air pressure in the tires. Plus, during winter, keep the gas tank near full to help avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines.<p>

(I’m 100% guilty of being lax on that! My tank currently says E and we’re getting to well below freezing each night with another storm moving in! Parking in a garage is NOT an excuse!)

Assemble a Winter Survival Kit for Your Car

The Basics of a Winter Car Survival Kit

The Basics of a Winter Car Survival Kit

Equip your car with these items:

  • blankets (I prefer a space blanket to regular blankets. I can only get the heavy-duty space blankets seasonally so I always stock up when they’re available.)
  • first aid kit
  • a large, clean can and a way to start a fire (to melt snow for water.)
  • windshield ice scraper (Buy a good on of these! It’s a myth that you can use a credit card to scrape ice!)
  • jumper cables
  • road maps
  • mobile phone and car charger
  • compass
  • tool kit (you should have one of these in your car at all times ANYWAY)
  • paper towels
  • bag of sand or cat litter (to pour on ice or snow for added traction)
  • tow rope
  • tire chains (in areas with heavy snow)
  • collapsible shovel
  • container of water and high-calorie canned or dried foods and a can opener
  • flashlight and extra batteries
  • canned compressed air with sealant (for emergency tire repair)
  • “hunter orange” material or red cloth
  • extra clothing, including mittens

I’m sure some of you are thinking: “I live in a warm area. We don’t get FROST let alone SNOW! What do I need this stuff for?” Well, you may LIVE in a warm area but do you ever DRIVE to a colder area?

I don’t keep all my gear in my car, I’ve got a Grab-It-And-Go-Box’. You can assemble all these items in a big plastic container and then you just grab it when you’re leaving. When you get home, it goes back on a shelf. PROVIDED that you replace any items that you’ve used!

It can be frozen in the morning and then look like THIS on your way out in the afternoon!

It can be frozen in the morning and then look like THIS on your way out in the afternoon!

My father told me this story:

When I drove in on the back road, the ground was frozen. By mid-afternoon, when I was driving out, the ground had thawed into a muddy mess and I got stuck. Even without snow, I needed my “Winter Survival Kit.”

Here’s another thought for you:

Be sure you know how to USE all the gear in your kit! If you have tire chains but don’t know how to put them on, what good do they do you?! Make sure that all your gear is in good working order with fresh batteries, all the parts to the kit, and that the adhesive in the bandages is still good.

Before you head out…

Tell someone where you’re going, being as exact as possible, and when you’ll be back. Then, when you get back, call them and let them know! This is common sense that needs to be followed no matter the season, EVERY time you head to the great outdoors.

If you DO get stuck, here’s what you do:

Call for help on your cell phone. If you can’t get a signal, you can rest easy that your buddy back home is expecting you and will call out the cavalry (or the sheriff) when you don’t show up home on time.)

Stay in your car or truck. In the case of a snow storm, disorientation occurs quickly in wind-driven snow and cold. You can run the motor about ten minutes each hour for heat, but be sure to open the window a little for fresh air to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning and make sure the exhaust pipe is not blocked by snow or anything else.

To make yourself visible to rescuers you should turn on the dome light at night when running engine, but be sure to turn it off when you shut off the car. You should tie a colored cloth to your antenna or door. The best color is “hunter orange” which is that ugly neon orange that isn’t found in nature- meaning it stands out really well. Second best color is red.

Exercise from time to time by vigorously moving arms, legs, fingers, and toes to keep blood circulating and to keep warm. This is good advice if you’re stuck in any type of storm!

So, go out, enjoy the snow and BE SAFE.

If you are in Arizona and are heading to Flagstaff, I really do recommend the 2009-2010 Flagstaff Snowplay eGuide. It has this article and others as well as complete details about where to go to play in the snow. A big thing this year: Flagstaff has a bunch of places where you’re NOT allowed to go play in the snow. That’s new. The eGuide covers it all, for just $4.95. You can find it at:

http://www.EatStayPlay.com/Store/eGuides_Flagstaff.html

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2 Responses to “Mystery Mondays: Winter Car Kit”

  • Wendi:

    Hi Kim,
    Great advice! I live in Northern Indiana ans we just got hit with a horrible ice/snow mess! I would like to expand on the extra clothes. I carry a pair of Carhart’s/snowpants, winter coat, and heavy duty water proof boots in my truck. Also tool box,flares,towstrap,and jumper cables.
    I live in the country and drive county roads daily to work. It may seem like a lot to keep in my extended cab Ford, but I hate being cold when I’m outside.
    Btw my Mom lives in Chandler and I love to cache in Az. Actually just bought her a GPS for Christmas so she can do it too!

  • Kim:

    Wendi —

    I’m so glad to hear that I was on the right track! I research all my articles AND write from my own experience, but I do worry about giving bad advice that could get people hurt.

    I’m a big one on always bringing extra clothes. You know how mom’s ALWAYS bring an “extra” change of clothes for the toddler in case they get wet or spill? Yeah, I never outgrew that! Mostly, if there is water (in ANY form: snow, ice, water, mud) I will find it, fall into it, and then need to change.

    I learned this lesson the hard way fishing one winter afternoon in Cottonwood when I slipped on some ice-like mud, and fell into the lagoon! I was wet from my knees down and had NOTHING to change into. The trip was cut short when we had to go home so I could change.

    Now, I always bring extra clothes!

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