It is so upsetting to read in the news of travelers freezing to death in cars during snow storms. I am updating this article in the hopes that people will invest just a few minutes into adding a survival kit to his or her car, it is well worth it in the long run.
Vehicles are the greatest invention EVER! They give us absolute freedom to go wherever we want to go, whenever we want to go. But a vehicle may also put us in a potentially dangerous situation if it fails (i.e. in the middle of whiteout conditions on a highway). If you operate a vehicle, it is up to you to prepare yourself for vehicle failures. No one wants to slide off a cliff and gently land in a patch of bouncy boxwoods without a few comforts from home before the handsome rescue team arrives.
If you own a car, and it is your primary source of transportation, then you have a 1’x1’x2’ area in the car somewhere that you can dedicate as your emergency preparedness zone. This is the area where you will keep one small back pack (or in my case a big colorful designer hand bag – oh yeah!) at all times. The bag will include items to keep you safe in case you get stranded in your vehicle or will assist you if you have to walk a long distance if your vehicle becomes disabled or traffic has been stopped indefinitely. The contents of the bag need to be changed out twice per year to allow for temperature changes. If you have children, it is best you let them assist you in packing the bag so they understand what it is for, it is an easy lesson they will take with them throughout adulthood.
Based on our health, the region in which we live (North Carolina) and the regions we primarily travel to (the Virginias and Ohio), this is what the bag contains in my car (this list is based on the assumption that the driver has a charged cell phone and sunglasses with them during each car trip and the driver is wearing clothing designed for the general weather forecast – in other words, don’t wear a bikini if you are driving into the Blue Ridge Mountains in December):
October 1st through May 1st:
4 plastic bags (like grocery bags) for covering feet inside shoes (keeps feet dry when walking long distances in snow), 1 pair of winter boots, 1 big no scent candle, I big soup can for containing the candle, 1 pack of all-weather matches, 3 granola bars, 3 bottles of water, first aid kit, knife, flashlight, gloves, socks, blanket, scarf, notepad, pen and a few baggies (for leaving a note hanging from your window in case you have to abandon your vehicle – state who you are, when and why you left and where you are headed), chemical hand/body warmers, sunscreen, a compass and reflective tape.
May 2nd through September 30th:
4 plastic bags (like grocery bags) for covering feet inside shoes (keeps feet dry when walking long distances in rain), 1 pair of good tennis shoes, 1 rain poncho, 3 granola bars, 5 bottles of water, first aid kit, knife, flashlight, notepad, pen and a few baggies (for leaving a note hanging from your window in case you have to abandon your vehicle – state who you are, when and why you left and where you are headed), sunscreen, a compass and reflective tape.