A Winter Car Survival Kit Will Keep You Warm in
By Craig Caudill
When traveling in cold weather it is wise keep a winter survival kit in your car. The most obvious place to put this valuable kit is in your trunk, so unlike other survival kits, a car survival kit can be larger and more bulkier. The focus of a car survival kit is to help maintain your core body temperature to as close to 98.6 degrees as possible. There are a variety of ways this can be done but here is a list of items that should be in your car during the winter in cold climates. This winter kit will help you if your car is broke down, disabled, if the weather is unsafe to drive in and your best and safest option is to shelter-in-place.
In this scenario your car is a shelter, utilize it to protect yourself from the cold elements. Here are some winter survival items that you should consider making part of your car in the cold winter months.
Wool or Fleece Blankets – Both wool and fleece continue to insulate even when they are wet.
Down Clothing or Bags – Goose down and other similar materials do not insulate when wet, but there is not much better on the market to help maintain warmth. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to keep a sleeping bag or two in your car for emergencies.
Candles – If you have never tried burning a candle in a small area, you should try it. It is quite amazing how much warmth can come from one small candle when it’s contained in a small area, such as a car. Along with the candles, make sure that you have something to light them with. If you are not a smoker, some matches in a waterproof container and/or a lighter needs to be with the candles.
Fire Starting Materials – Fire starters are important, particularly lighters and/or Ferro rods. Please remember if you build a fire, you should do so outside of the vehicle. One of the byproducts of burning fossil fuels is carbon monoxide, which can be deadly, and any flame consumes oxygen. When starting a fire, remember that you may have gas in your gas tank that you can siphon out and use. Siphon by removing a small hose from inside of the engine (if you are broke down and cannot move).
Head Coverings – 60-70% of your body heat escapes through your head and the back of your neck so it’s important for your whole body to keep your head and neck protected. It’s incredibly important to keep this part of your body covered to prevent heat loss. You may not like wearing hats or scarves under normal circumstances and so you depend on the heat from your car. This is fine, unless you get stuck in a major snowstorm… so forget fashion and store a hat or two with some heavy scarves in the trunk of your car.
Gloves – This may or may not be a no-brainer. If you usually drive sans gloves, it’s still good to have a pair or two in your car, right next to the hats and scarves. If you break down in the snow, you will be wishing for gloves. So before that happens store a couple of pairs in your car for winter emergencies.
Hand and Other Body Warmers – These are simple, inexpensive and when needed, are very handy. There are many different warmers on the market. Most are simply packaging, once they are exposed to air, they then warm up and can be utilized in your hands, pockets, or shoes to help warm up extremities. These also work well with gloves and hats.
Flashlights – Although a flashlight will not provide heat, it will provide light, and with light comes the heightened ability to make heat. It can also be used as a signalling device. Store the flashlight batteries outside of the flashlight, and don’t forget to keep some spares in your kit as well.
Other People – People provide heat. Although it may not be the most comfortable situation, huddling together under a blanket helps you utilize each others body heat. Just make sure that you only drive with people you would not mind cuddling with, especially on long and potentially dangerous trips!
Food – Keep a stash of protein/candy/granola bars in your car’s winter survival kit. You may have to get it out every few months, eat them and replace them with fresh food, but do have some high calorie, ready-to-eat, packaged food in you car.
Beyond these basics to help you stay warm, there can also be a few small auto repair items that will help you to make quick fixes to your car. These might get you off the side of the road and out of harm’s way. A basic serpentine belt, radiator hose, and duct tape, and a can of fix-a-flat type of tire inflation system can go a long way to helping get you back on the road.
Other practical considerations: Before taking a long trip especially in the winter, tell others your planned route, and estimated time of arrival. Pack a map. Even in the age of the GPS sometimes the old-fashioned maps and your common sense will help you to select the best routes. A map will be very useful if anything happens to your GPS. Also, take your cell phone and remember making wise preparations now will help you avoid serious complications and problems later.