A storm is rolling in next Tuesday; are you ready?

How to keep your car ‘emergency prepared’ for winter blizzards

Fri, 01/04/2019 - 11:45am

So, far we’ve been lucky. No major storms have interrupted work and school in the fall and winter of 2018. But, coming this Tuesday, Jan. 8, we’re facing some potential significant snowfall, which is the perfect time this weekend to evaluate a “What would you do?” situation, particularly if you went off the road in your vehicle in an area with no cell phone coverage.

Rockport Police Chief Randy Gagne, said, “My first bit of advice to drivers is to stay off the roads during hazardous weather conditions. If you don’t have to be out, don’t go out. Staying off the roads gives crews a chance to plow and treat the roads without traffic interference. If you must venture out have a charged phone, warm clothing, blanket, shovel, food, and water. Let someone know where you are heading and the route you will be taking.”

To get your vehicle “winter emergency ready,” first, invest in a trunk-sized plastic tote to keep everything in place. The Old Farmer’s Almanac suggests the following are necessities:

  • A set of jumper cables (and for those not mechanically inclined, here’s a reminder on how to use them).
  • A flashlight or a hand-crank flashlight is better
  • A First Aid kit
  • Road flares
  • A small knife or multi-tool such as a Leatherman
  • A shovel
  • A tow-strap or chain (for pulling out of a ditch)

That’s the minimum. If you’re in an area where there is no one nearby or a blizzard that is keeping medical personnel and police crews occupied elsewhere, and you’re forced to spend the night in your vehicle, now the situation has elevated to survival. According to Lifehacker, staying warm and staying hydrated are the two most important factors.

If that should happen, keep on hand:

  • A winter grade sleeping bag and/or emergency thermal blanket for each person
  • A gallon of water stored in a small cooler in smaller bottles to keep from freezing
  • A small camp stove and pan
  • Waterproof matches
  • Protein bars, nuts, granola, dried fruit and MREs (meals ready to eat) are calorie-rich
  • Winter boots, hats, gloves, neck warmers

Make sure you get that vehicle properly tuned up and that your car tires have good tread. Err on the side of having a full tank every time you know a blizzard is coming through. If you have to stay in your car overnight,  Weather.gov recommends:

  • Run the motor about 10 minutes each hour for heat
  • While running the motor, open the window a little for fresh air to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Clear snow from the exhaust pipe to avoid gas poisoning

One more thing to add to that list above:

Many of these items can be found at Maine Military Supply in Bangor, or at a number of smaller outdoor outfitters and big box stores as well as online.

Note: In addition to the attribution above, in the interest of ethical journalism, I believe it is important to credit writers and reporters who have published the topic of the story idea first, even if it is a competing newspaper. Even if I’ve been practicing outdoor survival all of my life and put my own spin on the angle. So, I’d like to credit Alex Ribar of Activities Guide of Maine and Aislinn Sarnacki of Bangor Daily News.

Kay Stephens can be reached at news@penbaypilot.com