Winter Travel Safety

          The stormy weather last week and the extreme cold this week are reminders that we need to be prepared when we travel in the winter, even if we are only going a short distance.  I don’t believe I have ever seen the entire state with “No Travel Advised” for so many days in a row.

          When wind, snow, and cold weather combine visibility can become zero, and roads can become blocked very quickly. A quick trip to the grocery store or the post office can turn into a potentially deadly situation very quickly!

          Keep a winter survival kit in your vehicle. At a minimum, keep a blanket, an extra winter cap, and warm gloves. If you normally wear only a light jacket when driving keep a heavy winter jacket in your vehicle. A good winter survival kit will also include a flashlight and a heat source. Old survival pamphlets always say candles in a coffee can, but when was the last time you saw a metal coffee can? Commercial tins with multi wick candles are readily available and inexpensive. Hand and toe warmers are also a great heat source for an emergency kit. And don’t forget a small shovel. Even if you aren’t going to dig yourself out of a snowbank you need to make sure your vehicle exhaust is clear if you are going to run your vehicle for short time periods.

          Today many people just depend on their cell phone as an emergency kit. If you don’t have one you should at least get an inexpensive trac-phone to carry for emergencies. But don’t just depend on your phone! If the weather is too bad it may not be possible for anyone to get to you. And remember that there are still areas with poor or no service. Even areas with normally good service may only be a single tower away from no service.

          Remember that most people who die after becoming stranded in their vehicle do so by trying to walk for help or by running their vehicle steadily with a plugged or poor exhaust system and being overcome by carbon monoxide!

          The best insurance against being stranded in bad weather is simply to not be on the road if you don’t need to be!