Monday, December 17, 2012

Winter is here!

Snow out back of the house
Well, winter is sort of here (though certainly not in a truly New England proper way). It's definitely time to double-check all the safety procedures for your vehicle and person. You might think your car is pretty safe (and you'd be correct), but there's always the chance of skidding off the road, being in an accident caused by someone else, or the variety of "Acts of God" that sometimes just happen.

I love using the phrase, "Preparing for the zombie apocalypse," because it doesn't make anyone nervous. I'm not the type to be stressing over the end of the world, really. But I do know that emergencies happen, and that they're less likely to happen if you're prepared for them.

What emergency gear do you have in your vehicle? Remember your Rule of Threes and check your "Goodi bag" to make sure it has everything in it you need (for a great refresher check out CTJ's articles, Goodi I and Goodi II).

In the winter, especially in the colder parts of the world, you want to make sure you have a change of clothes in your car. If you fall in a snowbank or get soaked pushing the car out of a ditch, or are simply cold in whatever you're wearing, you need to be able to change into something practical, warm and dry. Two changes is great, but one is a necessity. If nothing else, pack a few pairs of extra socks. Cold feet can cause you to fall, making the whole, "I'm cold," thing even worse.

First aid kits are really important parts of any emergency bag, but especially so in winter. Be prepared to deal with frostbite, injuries from trauma (snowboarding and skiing and such), and broken bones from falls on ice. Also have on hand a manual to explain the details about winter injuries, and if you have a smartphone, consider picking up a first aid app!

Husband wrapped in camo sleep system
Along with your extra clothing, have a good quality sleeping bag or sleep system in your vehicle. You can stay in your car for a very long time and still be alright if you have blankets and sleeping bags and warm clothing, as your car makes a VERY good shelter.

If you are in an area that gets hit by fast, deep snow, you may want to invest in a tall orange or red flag that you can place on top of your car. Whether you're stuck in the car on the side of the road, or have to abandon it during an emergency, the flag will let emergency and road crews know there's a vehicle there.

On the food front, MREs are a great option for in a vehicle, both because they don't take up much space, and because the heater they contain is not dangerous to use inside the car. The vast majority of snow accidents that would leave you in your car for a time, should be solved within a day or two. A single MRE can feed one person who isn't doing hard work (ie sitting in the car staying warm) for a couple of days easily. Even one warm meal can give you hope and help you think more clearly.

The technical aspect shouldn't be ignored, either. Having your first aid app available is great, and having a GPS in your phone is also good. If you're stuck but unable to explain where you are, you can call emergency and let them home in on your phone's signal. You can use a phone to call for help, either from emergency crews or family. In order to use your phone, though, it must be charged. If you are in your car and it is turned on, put it on the charger. This assures your phone is always at full, available for you to use in any emergency.

There are tons of other suggestions for keeping yourself safe in the car. Have sand on hand to get you out of slippery situations, for instance, or kitty litter. Put blocks in the back of your car (if you have rear wheel drive) in order to give you more traction. Carry a shovel and extra gloves in case you have to deal with the elements. Some people even carry a chain saw or foldable saw, in case they're stuck behind downed trees!

What sort of things do you have in your car to help keep you safe? Please, share!

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