It’s that time of year, Northlandians. I have some tips for you.
DO NOT LEAVE YOUR CAR! If you get stuck somewhere, STAY IN YOUR CAR! It’s warm in there. It’s cold and wet out side. The car has lights. And a horn.
Don’t ever let your gas gauge get below half. This is key. If you get stuck somewhere and help is on the way but not soon, you will need the fuel to keep your car running and warm and your lights on. Even if you spin out on I94W and get stuck in the median ditch area right off Radio Drive, you don’t know how long it will take to get the truck there. Think about it; traffic, weather, super busy truck guys, plows, and panicky freaked out drivers. Relax. You’ve been given a break time by the universe. Pick up your phone and play Angry Birds or call your Mom.
Get a Winter Survival Kit. By now you should have a winter survival kit in your trunk. Your kit should be packed in one duffel that stays in your car.
- up to date first aid kit including any medications you might need
- 2 WOOL blankets per person riding in the car. Each set should be packed in two large garbage bags
- extra WOOL socks and mittens (not gloves)
- up to date flashlights
- glow sticks
- high protein energy bars (replace them yearly) or enough non-perishable food for a few days
- 12 bottles of water (can be stored separately)
- 1 bag of kitty litter (I get mine in a plastic bucket for easy handling)
- 1 good hunting knife
- 6 road flares
- 12 tea light candles
- 1 clean tin can for said candles (I like tuna cans)
- roll of toilet paper in it’s own zippy
I also keep an extra set of winter clothes in my kit and a can opener and canned soups. I have a pair of heavy leather gloves as well. Keep the items you pick small and self contained in zippy bags. My dearest hubby also got me an entrenching tool which has worked very well indeed on deep drifts.
The reason you want wool is that if it gets wet, it will still work to keep you warmer than any fiber. Cotton will actually wick away warmth. Cotton is good next to the skin, but to keep the warm in, use wool. All wool. 100%. No skimping on this.
Now the driving tips. Don’t lose control. You do this by locking up your brakes. Don’t do that. My Dad was the best. Here are some of his:
- If you have to get tires, get them now. Give yourself an early holiday gift. If tires usurps getting others gifts, do so. This is your life. You deserve new tires.
- Find an empty parking lot and whip some donuts. Really. Learn how your car responds then figure out how to react. I like shopping center lots at about 6am. I usually wait for a really slippery situation. Do this for about an hour. Then get gas and go for breakfast.
- Practice how to steer into and out of a spin.
- Practice how to use your shifter to maintain control of your speed without losing control of your tires. NEVER SHIFT WITH YOUR FOOT ON THE GAS! You can do this with an automatic as well as manual.
- Practice how to use the gas pedal to get greater torque and control of your speed.
- Increase following distance and travel time. Give yourself the time and space to control yourself. Thor knows there are enough out there who won’t. Compensate.
- Never let your gas tank get below half.
Stay clear of the plows. Snug in behind them with enough distance so they can see you in their mirrors. Don’t pass them! Those guys are working doubles and visibility is hideous. Give them a break. They are working to keep you alive. Don’t get huffy about being stuck behind one.
If the roads are closed, go home or go back where you were. Unless he wants you to put lotion on its skin or it gets the hose again. The roads are closed for a very good reason: emergency crews don’t need to risk their lives to save yours because you really need another can of cranberry sauce or you have a hot date with some burning hunk of lovin’. In some cases law enforcement can write you a really expensive ticket for your choice to endanger your life, the lives of people in your car, and those who have to come and rescue your idiotic self from freezing to death.
Check your local 511 road conditions before you go. Whatever state you live in has a Department of Transportation that will hook you up with road conditions.
This is all good stuff that will keep you alive. Many people think that just because you live in a city or large town you won’t need this. Freezing weather is freezing weather. If you are dressed for an office, you really do need those blankets, socks, and any other warming assistance you can get.
Most of all, think before you act.
I’ve got my kit in the car, is yours?