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Winter driving preparedness & survival tips

It seems like every winter there are stories in the news of people that somehow end up getting their vehicle stuck in the snow. Sometimes it is an accident that sends them skidding off the road and out of sight, sometimes it is overconfidence that their 4×4 can make it through a drift on a back road. Whatever the cause, far too often these people are completely unprepared for a winter emergency.

Winter survival kit

When traveling in the winter, in addition to your GOOD bag, you need to keep the following items in your vehicle as an auxiliary kit.

1. Shovel: a small snow shovel or a folding shovel will work just fine. This is to help you potentially dig out, help build a shelter if your vehicle is compromised, or dig a cat hole.

2. Warm hat, gloves and socks: Having an extra set in your kit means you can swap out wet or sweaty ones for dry ones.

3. Unused paint or metal #10 can with few tea candles and a BBQ lighter: With the candle lit inside the can it creates a warmer that you can huddle around if you run out of gas, or are unable to clear the exhaust pipe before running the engine. If you use a paint can or a #10 can with a reusable lid, many of your supplies can be stored right inside the can saving space.

4. Blankets or sleeping bags: Include a few emergency blankets as well. Use cargo tape to hang emergency blankets to create a reflective shelter in your vehicle to help trap body heat.

5. Cordage: Yes you have cordage in your GOOD bag that you could use, but this cord should be brightly colored and at least 25ft long. You will hang on to this cord and spool it out anytime you need to leave the shelter of your vehicle to toilet.

6. Cargo tape: This is to tape up the emergency blankets to create a reflective cave in your vehicle. It can also be used for some types of repairs.

7. Knife: Again, yes you have one in your GOOD bag, but it never hurts to have another knife that stays in your vehicle as a back up.

8. Snacks & Drinks: Unlike during the summer when things left in your vehicle are likely to melt or spoil, during the winter you only have to worry about the freeze/thaw cycle. But it does give you a wider variety of snacks you can pack. Try to include calorie and protein dense snacks such as granola bars, Datrex packs, mini candy bars, hard candy or anything not likely to make you thirsty. You can add hot cocoa or spiced cider packets too to add some flavor to hot water. And speaking of water, make sure you bring some along.

9. Hygiene: Wet wipes, hand sanitizer and toilet paper or toilet paper compressed coins should be included.

10.First Aid Kit: Since this is a supplement to your GOOD bag, pack a robust kit that should live in your vehicle year round. Make sure it includes extra of any medications you take daily.

11. Pet food & water: If you typically travel with a pet, make sure you take their needs into consideration too and carry food and water for them and the dishes to serve it in.

12. Large bright red or orange cloth: Cloth or plastic, either is fine. The purpose is when the weather clears then you tie it out to a high point near your location to attract attention from ariel searchers.

13. Car repair kit: these are basic repair things to keep you on the road. Jumper cables, Fix-A-Flat, Tow cables or chains, small note pad & pen, basic tools such as a couple of different types of pliers and screw drivers or wrenches.

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