I know a lot about surviving harsh winter weather. I grew up near a small town in upstate New York. Winter there can be devastating. You are prepared for the worst, which is pretty much always what you get. The locals used to joke about our region by calling it Alaska. I remember a blizzard that covered our two story house, a Christmas when the thermometer read minus 55 and countless ice storms from winds off Lake Ontario. It was cold but it was also a lot of fun. There were snowball fights, snow forts, sledding, ice skating on frozen ponds and for the ones who could afford it, snowmobiling.
We were all taught at an early age how to survive severe winter weather. It was a fact of our lives several months out of the year. We all knew that going outside meant boots, hats, long johns, layers, warm coats, scarves, hoods, and snow suits. (Sometimes you were still cold.) We all knew not to drive if at all avoidable. If you did drive, you’d better be prepared for the worst.
Driving in winter weather requires a certain amount of skill and knowledge. It isn’t just the driving that determines your survival, it’s what you bring with you as well. It isn’t the length of the trip but what you run into on the journey that makes a difference. If you live in a cold weather area there are a few items that should always be in your vehicle in the winter months.
Essential items for winter travel :
*Bottled water and non-perishable food
*Extra warm, dry clothing and outerwear.
*Sand and rugs for traction, if stuck.
*A small snow shovel
*Matches or lighter in a watertight container
*Full tank of gas
*Red cloth to tie to antenna (makes your vehicle visible even when buried in snow)
*Spare tire and tools to change it.
Before you leave :
*Check weather reports
*Check your vehicle for low fluids or other issues.
*Inform someone of your route and destination
Driving Tips :
*Drive at a safe speed.
*Apply brakes slowly.
*If you lose traction, turn the wheel slowly into the slide
*Use headlights, even in the daytime.
If you are stuck in bad weather :
*Call for help when you first break down or become stuck (before the battery on your phone runs out or you become too disoriented to know your location).
*Stay in and with your car
*Run engine occasionally for warmth (do not run constantly due to possible carbon monoxide poisoning).
*Display a help sign such as a red cloth tied to your antenna.
*Try to keep snow from the covering vehicle so you will be seen.
*Move around to avoid circulation problems.
*Huddle together for warmth.
*Take turns sleeping, so as not to go into hypothermia.
*Avoid strenuous exercise (if you must shovel or push take breaks in between work.
Once the storm has stopped:
*Check your surroundings.
*If help is not in sight, stay with your vehicle.
*If help is in your sight, dress warmly and bring water and a small snack with you before leaving your vehicle.
*If you have small children, do not leave them alone while you go for help. Remain in your vehicle and wait for rescue.
This article was previously published by this author on a now closed Yahoo property.