At the risk of dating myself, I will admit to being stranded in the blizzard of ’78. It was a biggie that hit the East Coast and shut things down for the better part of a week. My car just gave up and died in a traffic back up in Providence, RI. The only emergency supply I had on hand was a beach blanket, but it came in handy as I trudged through blinding, snow and wind to the home of some friends. I was lucky that I was stranded in “civilization” with help nearby, but since then, I’ve always kept an emergency survival kit in my car. Here’s what’s in it:
1. A Warm Blanket. If you have to wait in cold weather for help, you will want an extra layer to help you stay warm.
2. Flashlight. I keep a good-sized, water-proof flashlight with fresh batteries, as well as some spare batteries. I also carry a hand-crank LED flashlight and emergency candles as a back-up (and don’t forget the matches).
3. Snow shovel. This can take up a little room, but I found a “GI” shovel in the Army Navy store that folds in half and has a metal blade. It comes in handy when you just need to clear a snow from around the wheels.
4. Hand warmers. Smash the bag and the chemical reaction inside creates heat to defrost fingers that may be trying to change a tire, fiddle with an engine or just stay warm.
5. Bottle of water and a few protein or snack bars. I replenish these periodically as they can get a little stale by the end of the season.
6. Lightsticks. Easily found at the dollar store and useful as a light source or a safety measure if you need to shovel snow from around your wheels at night.
7. Flares. Not just for winter. These should be in your trunk in all seasons for putting next to your car if you are pulled over in distress.
8. Whistle. Yelling gets old (and tiring) fast. A whistle can be used to signal for help, or to scare someone who may be trying to take advantage of your situation.
9. A First Aid Kit. I stock it with a few extras like lip balm and a few doses of any prescription medicine we need.
10. Extra hats, socks and mittens. I can’t emphasize enough how staying warm while you wait for help can be lifesaving.
Extras you may want to add to your kit
11. Siphon Pump. If being out of gas is your problem, and you get offered help by a good Samaritan, you want to be able to get a gallon or two of gas out of another gas tank to get you going quickly.
12. Jumper cables. See #11. If your battery is dead and help happens along, these could help get you own your way again.
13. Road salt, sand, or cat litter for traction.
14. A battery-powered radio. If your car dies, chances are your car radio has or will soon. Having access to news can help you assess your situation.
15. A deck of cards, a book, a travel game. Waiting can get tedious, even when you’ve alerted someone and help is one the way. These can help pass the time.
Getting stranded in your car in the winter is no fun. It can leave you feeling vulnerable and at risk. Having a winter emergency kit on hand not only gives you peace of mind, but provides supplies until help arrives.
Do you carry an emergency kit in your car? What’s in it?