Winter Driving: Be Prepared for the Unexpected

winter snow

As I peck away at the keyboard while writing this post, a harsh wind howls just outside my office window. The snow is blowing laterally, seemingly defying gravity, if only for an instant. It’s cold outside and I’m very happy to be in a warm, dry home right now.

It Could Happen to You

I enjoy the outdoors. We go camping regularly all year round. I’ve been camping in all kinds of conditions and “weather events.” I’ve camped in snow, in rain, in hail, and occasionally even on warm sunny days. But I’m glad that I’m not in a tent tonight. It’s damp, and windy, and cold. And that’s not a good combination.

But I could be outside tonight. I could be stuck out there with no way to call home and little in the way of provisions to help make it through the cold, wet, and dark night.

All it takes is a momentary distraction while driving, a missed turn on a sharp curve and you’re in the ditch, or worse, in the river. Or perhaps another driver, texting behind the wheel, runs you off the road and flees the scene, leaving you in the middle of no where.

That’s why it pays to be prepared, to have a get-home-kit in your car, to carry with you warm clothes, and to possess the skills required to make the best of your circumstances.

Don’t Leave Home Without It

It’s nice to open the garage door and step into a relatively warm vehicle that’s free of the snow and ice that blankets the outdoors on the other side of the garage wall. It’s tempting to take that warm passage from home to vehicle for granted and forego carrying with you the heavy coat and hat and the backpack of full of survival gear. After all, you’re just going to run a few errands and it’d take longer to put your coat on when you arrive at your destination than it’s worth.

But it is those things, the supplies that you’re tempted to leave at home for the sake of convenience and speed, that may one day save your life.

Don’t leave them behind.

  • Every Day Carry. Make sure that you have your everyday carry kit with you. Get in a habit carrying it with you, well, everyday.
  • Winter Clothes. Take a heavy coat, some gloves, and a ski cap with you. No one is saying that you have to use them. But you cannot use them if you don’t have them with you.
  • Get-Home Kit. Now is a great time to double check the supplies in the car kit. Go through it to make sure that the items are still fresh and in good condition. Make sure the flashlight batteries are good, that the munchies aren’t stale, and the other supplies haven’t somehow walked away over the past 6 months.

Know How to Use Them

As I’ve mentioned on more than one occasion: Simply possessing the much needed supplies is only half the battle. You must know how to properly use them.

For example, you may have an emergency solar blanket in your get-home kit, but do you know how to use it? Can you make a fire under less-than-ideal circumstances using only the ferro-rod that you’ve been carrying around for the past 2 years and tinder that you can find laying around?

When the time comes, will you be prepared? Now is the time to practice.

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