Every year we get reports of motorists stranded along the road because of weather conditions. All across the nation, we get reports of icy roads, blizzard conditions and just plain nasty weather bringing cars to a standstill. A few months back, I mentioned about a friend of ours and her 9-year old daughter who were stranded for several hours in her car in the Portland area due to icy road conditions. They weren’t exactly preppers, but the few items they had with them made their unscheduled stop a little more comfortable and the story has a happy ending. I’m sure her story is repeated dozens of times every year all across the nation.
Some don’t fare as well as my friend. Some are prepared, many are not. I have had occasion to discuss being “travel prepared” with a few folks. Invariably they ask me for a list of items to carry.
Here are ten items I recommend:
1. A blanket. Try to find one that has its own carry bag. That will help keep it clean and in some cases, dry. Remember wool retains its insulating properties even when wet.
2. Warm clothes. Sweatshirt, heavy socks, maybe a pair of long johns.
3. Snack food. Protein/granola bars, a jar of peanut butter, a few bottles of water.
4. First aid kit. Band-aids are always in style, some vaseline, anti-biotic ointment.
5. Cell phone charging cable. Get the kind that plugs into your cigarette lighter. Then leave it in your car.
6. Flashlight/headlamp. Spare batteries are always a good idea. I find if you leave batteries in a flashlight for several months corrosion happens.
7. Tow strap. If you simply slide off the pavement and need a little assistance, a tow strap will come in very handy. Now all you need is a good Samaritan with a four wheel drive pickup.
8. A deck of cards or an activity book to keep the kids occupied. Maybe even a book of crossword puzzles to keep yourself occupied.
9. Jumper cables. Everyone should have a set anyway. Maybe you can be someone’s hero.
10. Small, folding shovel. Maybe you need to toss a few shovelfuls of sand under your tires or move a bit of snow.
I’m sure you can think of more, or for your particular situation your needs may differ. There are always the fire-starting items, candles, matches, cookpot to heat water for those Mountain House meals, diapers and the list can go on until your trunk is full.
One very good rule is to keep your gas tank above the “half” mark. It costs no more to run on the top half of your tank than the bottom half. And when you’re sitting in sub-freezing weather along the road awaiting rescue, it’s nice to know you’re not going to run out of gas. In fact, it’s a good plan to run your engine for 10 minutes every hour with the heater on. Then shut off the engine to conserve fuel. Remember it is usually best to stay with your car. FEMA’s website (www.ready.gov) recommends staying with your car unless you can see shelter or a safe location nearby. If you must travel, remember to let someone know your destination and your planned route. Then when you arrive, be sure to notify your friends of your safe arrival. That’s what pilots call a flight plan.
One footnote; my young friend has since traded in her very nice Ford Fusion for a more sure-footed all-wheel drive Jeep Cherokee. A good choice.
Dave Robinson is a retired Bandon postmaster and the author of “Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us,” available on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble and other online booksellers.