winter preparedness for your car

Not long ago, we had blizzard conditions here in our area. I drove our winter-appropriate vehicle to pick up my children from school because the conditions were so bad. As I navigated the mile to the nearest school, I couldn't see more than about five feet in front of me. Luckily, I was very familiar with the route and was able to find my way. I parked along the curb watching for my son. I was very focused on finding him because I was worried that he wouldn't be able to see me. Sure enough, I had to stop him before he almost walked right past our vehicle.

The next pick up was almost as bad. Conditions worsened as I traveled. We made the pick-up only to hear that the school was gearing up for a potential overnight stay since parents and buses were not being able to get to the school to pick up their kids. We made it home without any other problems. Later, however, we heard that one of the nearby schools had kept all of the school kids overnight. And many of the parents traveling to the school actually ended up off the sides of the roads, either by sliding or because of visibility. Many hiked to find nearby businesses and houses. Others hunkered down in their cars for the night, thinking that they were going to die from exposure once their gas and cell batteries were out. Thankfully, plows were able to dig out most of the cars the next morning. But some spent miserable nights in their cars.

This experience has definitely become a stop and think moment for me. If I had been in those circumstances, what would I have wished I had?

Here is my car preparedness wish list:
Gas (I can't really store this in my trunk, but we do keep all of our vehicle tanks at least half full)
Blankets (wool, reflective and/or a sleeping bag)
Water (I always keep a case of water bottles in the back of each of my cars)
Food (Even a box or two of granola bars would be tasty in this situation)
Hand warmers (these are small and would fit nicely into a first-aid kit)
Cell phone charger
Jump cables
Window scraper and/or broom
First Aid Kit
Flares/flag (some of the plows couldn't see where the cars - with people still in them - were stranded because the snow was so deep)
Extra socks/hat

And like my mother always said, "Don't go anywhere without your coat in the winter because you might get in an accident."

FEMA - Winter Preparedness


foodstr2 said...

Just curious how you keep your bottled water from freezing in your car overnight....


Wendy said...

We have a garage. It's never been an issue for us.

Christy said...

I have about half of these things in my car but need to add the others.

Pencil Writer said...

Great blog! Thanks for taking the time to share what you've done!

Marie said...

Hadn't thought about the flares, that is a good idea!
Since I know that you have Maceys in your area, thought you might want to know that where my relatives are, they have 5-gallon buckets with lids on sale for $2.99. I think that the sale is on until Tuesday--but naturally people should call their local store to see if they have those prices--it would be a good time to get some if they do.

Wendy said...

Thanks Pencil Writer!

And thanks for the heads-up, Marie!

Maceys also has 55-gallon water barrels for $40 right now.

Mike K. said...

I have a response for Bruce but first I'd like to say great job to Wendy. I've read many blogs on this subject and I'd put your writing style at the top.

Bruce -

I live in Chicago and I used to store 3-4 bottles of water in one of two backpacks in my car (parked outdoors). After the 2nd winter I noticed that two bottles had leaked but did not loose too much water. My concern was not in water damaging other items - though it's a concern - as much as trusting the water if I needed it. I had no way of knowing what started growing in the bottles once the seal was broken.

I've since moved up to a kit that contains marine pouches, as they're rated to temps well below freezing.

Full disclosure - I do run an outdoor preparedness store and related blog.

Hope this helps.

Wendy said...

Thanks for responding Mike! I appreciate your comments -- especially in a situation like this where I have no personal experience. Good ideas.