When it’s time to get get in the seat and you’re driving in winter weather or part of your trip will take you through winter weather, it’s a good idea to pack some extras, especially if you are driving through remote areas. Whether you are driving through mountains or through prairies with long stretches between populated areas, a winter emergency kit could save your life.
Choosing a Plan of Action
If your truck breaks down or you get stuck in a snow bank in a remote region, it could be hours or even a day or more before you can get help, especially if your cell phone or a satellite phone has no service. Since the range of a CB radio is limited, you won’t be able to rely on that, either.
Now, you need to decide whether to let your truck run so you can keep warm or whether to conserve gas. If you idle the gas away you’re going to be in a bigger bind since you won’t have enough to get to the next town. If you are on a route that you travel frequently, you could guess how much gas you need to save to get to the next gas station and let the truck idle for 5 to 10 minutes every hour or two. However, if you have an emergency kit, you won’t have to worry about that.
Packing an Emergency Kit
Warmth and Food
For survival, you’ll need heat, water and food. In most places, you can find dead fall to build a fire to keep yourself warm. To ensure that you’ll be able to start a fire, keep waterproof matches and tinder in your emergency kit. An empty toilet paper roll stuffed with dryer lint makes an excellent fire starter. Keep the toilet paper rolls and dryer lint in a zippered plastic bag to keep it dry.
If you know you are going to be traveling through an area that doesn’t have trees and dead fall, you might carry a bag of charcoal with you. If you keep a small folding grill packed away, you’ll have a place to light the charcoal for warmth, and you’ll have something to cook on instead of wearing down the batteries by using the microwave in the truck.
If the fridge in the truck is starting to get too warm, simply put your perishables outside the truck. The cold will keep them from spoiling, though it if it’s below 30 degrees, things may freeze. As part of your emergency kit, you should always carry non-perishable high-energy food, such as peanut butter, chocolate, energy drinks and granola bars. Extra water is also a must.
Keeping Dry and Warm
If you’re stuck because the truck broke down or because you slid off the road, you may get wet trying to fix the truck if you have to crawl under it; and if you’re putting chains on the tires, you’re sure to get wet and maybe even muddy. Be sure to keep an extra set of warm, dry clothing, an extra jacket and extra gloves in your emergency kit. You’ll be glad to have something to change into instead of letting wet clothing dry on you.
Extra blankets are also a good idea. Just be sure that the blanket material is warm. Tarps also fold up small enough to stash in out of the way. Having a tarp also helps if you need to get under the truck or even to cover a broken window to keep the wind and weather out of the cab of the truck. Should you decide to hike out, the tarp will provide a shelter for you should more bad weather hit or you don’t make it to the next town before nightfall.
The last thing anyone wants is to be hurt in an accident or to hurt themselves while repairing a truck, putting chains or any other reason. An extensive first aid kit could save your life. Make sure the first aid kit you choose has several bandages of different sizes, bandage tape, eye wash, anti-bacterial cream, burn cream, finger splint, ace bandages, gauze, tweezers, needle and thread, alcohol swabs and extra water for cleaning wounds at a minimum. The smaller first aid kits are not enough as they only contain small bandages and items for minor cuts.
Communication and Miscellaneous Items
Never rely on a cell phone to have service. Make sure your truck has a CB radio in the event that a trucker within listening distance can hear you. Also, you should have a hand crank radio so that you could listen to an emergency channel.
A flashlight, extra batteries, reflective emergency triangles, tow chains or straps, a flare gun and flares, a snow shovel and a regular spaded shovel are also important tools to have on hand.
When you have these items, you have a better chance of surviving getting stuck in a remote place in the middle of a snowstorm and you’ll have the ability to try to get yourself unstuck.