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Winter Survival In Your Car

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On: Mon, Nov 24, 2014 at 10:19AM | By: Karen Cook

Winter Survival In Your Car

The news from New York these last week was frightening to me. I’m a Florida native and I have to admit that with our temperatures in the 30s at night and barely reaching 60 during the day, I was freezing. I’m sure readers in New York are outraged, but my blood in as thin as water and not designed to deal with anything lower than 70 comfortably. Even so, I love cold weather and look forward to temperatures chilly enough to warrant hot chocolate and flannel. I started to think of what people do when they are stranded in their vehicles in a snowstorm. This isn’t likely to happen to me, but it does happen. Do people up north prepare for it? Do they have emergency kits in their cars? What’s in them?

Unfortunately there are few answers online. The first site I looked at seemed to assume that you would be aware that you were about to be stranded with no help available and that you had packed accordingly. It listed things like a pillow and blankets, non-perishable food, a snow shovel, and extra gas on its must-have list. Also things you would be likely to have, like a flashlight, matches, your cell phone, and jumper cables. Prescription medications showed up too, which is scary. What if you only have a once a day medication? You aren’t likely to bring it on a trip to the market.

While not on the basic supply list, the site also suggested having a “car kettle” which runs on gas or solar power. This is for boiling the water you need to stay alive. It is not recommended to eat snow. Snow should be gathered, melted, strained (in the fine mesh colander you should also keep in your vehicle), and then boiled to make it safe to drink.

I did manage to find a couple of sites that actually had some useful information. Basically, if you are caught unawares in a snowstorm or blizzard, there’s not much to do but try to keep warm and wait for help. Of course the first thing to do is call for help and give your location using your phone’s GPS. Then wait. And don’t die. Don’t leave your vehicle unless you can see better shelter, such as a hotel or truck stop from where you are. If it’s dark or still storming you could freeze before you find some place you can’t see. Your car is better than nothing for shelter.

As tempting as it may be to run your car with the heat on until it’s out of gas, it’s much better to run it for about 15 to 20 minutes per hour just to knock the chill off. Crack the window to let in oxygen and prevent carbon-monoxide poisoning.

Finally, tie something to your antenna. This makes it easier for rescuers to determine that your vehicle hasn’t been abandoned. The first responders to a large group of stranded vehicles will be focused on people and not vehicles, so it pays to alert them to your presence.

11-24 arm


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