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What's in YOUR car? (212.6) - Mark's Journal
What's in YOUR car? (212.6)
You've seen the articles urging you to keep emergency provisions in the car, in case you get stranded somewhere. When you're mostly just driving around town, it probably doesn't occur to you to bother making sure you're stocked up.

Well, hundreds of New York State Thruway drivers in the Buffalo area, including many who were probably just driving across town on "the 90," found themselves stranded for hours last night, even overnight, thanks to lake effect snow closing several miles of the Interstate.

So, what's in your car? Do you have emergency provisions that would let you survive twelve hours stuck on a frigid highway? Or, even worse, a few days in a ditch where no one can see you right away? If you can't easily get out of the car, is your stash reachable from the inside?

Some bottled water and granola bars would seem to be a bare minimum. There's always a few bottles of water in my trunk, and sometimes a box of granola bars; I'm going to put a couple bars in the glove compartment tomorrow morning.

How about warmth? A night on a snowy Interstate could get chilly. If you can run your engine, you'll be glad you started with most of a tank of gas. There's always a sleeping bag in my trunk, but it occurs to me an emergency mylar blanket, or "space blanket," wouldn't be a bad idea. These have been available for decades, and are smaller than a paperback. A couple of chemical hand-warmer packets in the glove compartment wouldn't be a bad idea, either, in case you can't run the engine. Propane heater? Probably overkill -- and would be dangerous in a closed car, anyway.

What am I forgetting? And while the subject's on my mind, Brian's home preparedness article is timely as winter approaches.
12 comments or Leave a comment
polypolyglot From: polypolyglot Date: December 2nd, 2010 11:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
I put together backpacks that include a shovel or e-tool plus an ax and a first aid kit for both my parents' car and for Ben's car. I don't know if he duplicated the backpack's contents for his wife's car.

For food, I also include jerkies, though they may be a bit too salty for most people's tastes (and health).

I need to replace the chemical handwarmer packets that used to be in my winter jacket. Good reminder, thanks!

Addendum: I'm not sure if I have what enough provisions for a cross-country escape if some disaster hit my area. I think any strategy would be predicated on having to make frequent stops to forage for fuel and supplies. That said, I included waterproof matches and water purification tablets in all of the survival kits.

This may or may not be (sub)urban legend, but if you apply the terminals of a 9-volt battery to pencil shavings, that's an elementary firestarter.

In a conversation a few years back, Tony R. convinced me I should find a Boy Scout handbook from the 80's or earlier. Some of the knowledge might be quaint in our current technological state, but you never know when technology will fail.

Edited at 2010-12-03 02:32 am (UTC)
queenmabwords From: queenmabwords Date: December 3rd, 2010 12:53 am (UTC) (Link)

I know a little about snow

A full tank of gas is the best thing you can start out with on any trip that could end up being extra-long. The _one thing_ that I hope everyone would learn is if you are stuck in deep snow and keeping the car going for warmth, please get out of the car and clear out the exhaust to your car, so that it goes into the atmosphere instead of back into your breathing air for the car interior. Breathing exhaust is poison of course, but in these extreme conditions, it could be something that might easily slip your mind.

Of course, the best advice that I have to remind myself is "don't go out in terrible weather if you don't have to!" Too often, stubbornness gets in the way of common sense. My boneheaded moves usually involved going out clubbing which seemed more important than life itself at the time, but was really, really not.

I definitely recommend a regular blanket and extra hats and gloves. Once my car door frozen OPEN and I had to tie it closed with a beautiful, homemade scarf. My Mom still hasn't forgiven me for that, although I haven't brought it up lately so I'm not exactly sure if it's still on her mind. The scarf is just fine, I'll have you know. It just had to be washed. For the record, bringing up great craftsmanship of the maker of said item should be avoided at that particular juncture of misusing said item.

Someone bought me a wonderful emergency kit that contains jumper cables, a first aid kit and even fuses!
From: yamazakikun Date: December 3rd, 2010 03:55 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: I know a little about snow

Jumper cables are always a good idea, but I like the gadget I picked up at Fry's — 400 W inverter, USB power ports, work light, jumper cables and a sealed lead-acid battery all in one package. I haven't used it for survival purposes yet, but I jump-started someone's car last Sunday and it was ridiculously easy.

For warmth, I've heard good things about Army surplus blankets.
queenmabwords From: queenmabwords Date: December 3rd, 2010 09:57 am (UTC) (Link)

Fry's is a wonderland!

That sounds cool.

I used to have a work light that was made out of a headlight. We made them in Junior Achievement in high school.
zercool From: zercool Date: December 3rd, 2010 02:45 am (UTC) (Link)
I'd strongly recommend getting a heavier space blanket than the pocket-size mylar jobs. Something like this one will be far more durable and can also be used as a rain fly in a pinch.

Combined with a lighter-weight sleeping bag and a good hat, you should be fine in most any weather (inside the car, anyways).
helianthas From: helianthas Date: December 3rd, 2010 05:05 am (UTC) (Link)
Clearly you forgot the bottle of whiskey.
From: dblaser_ca Date: December 3rd, 2010 10:11 am (UTC) (Link)
That kind of snow was one of the reasons why I got a 4x4 after flipping the Jetta.

After the accident, I wanted something that was just overall bigger and more durable than the car was, and the 4x4 option was, originally, just a nice added bonus. After driving through a lousy winter with it, I will fight tooth and nail if someone suggests that I replace my vehicle with something that doesn't have the 4x4 option.

Yes, it's definitely still possible to get stuck in the snow with a 4x4, but I've seen many times worse than what I flipped the Jetta in with my old 4x4, I've never been stuck once, in fact I've helped people out of jams thanks to having it.

I hate to say it, but selecting a vehicle geared for the particular area is among the important things anyone should do in order to save themselves in the event of a major weather related problem.
aregulardyke From: aregulardyke Date: December 3rd, 2010 10:14 am (UTC) (Link)

More ...

This is something I heard a loooong time ago - that keeping a few candles ( the votive type, short and squat ) as well as a clean tunafish can as the candle holder can provide both light and a small amount of heat when stuck in a situation like the one on the Thruway ... though again, there would be some oxygen depletion, I don't think it'd be toxic.
pigglet27 From: pigglet27 Date: December 3rd, 2010 11:44 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, I don't know. The car I'm driving right now, the red rocket is devoid of anything except a jump kit and some ramps for a wheelchair in the trunk.

My old car, the silver bullet, has two fleece blankets and a bag with dry clothes in it, along with a neat sheet. There is also a big bag with car emergency supplies, like jumper cables, a siphon and other stuff. Then I have a small air compressor for my tires and a first aid kit and a smaller road emergency kit.

Guess I should switch the contents of those cars. We don't get lake effect snow here but it can get hairy during the winter on the thruway.
triola From: triola Date: December 8th, 2010 04:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
I like the bottled water idea, but mine froze one year and broke all over the seat. Ick. My Honda is a hatchback and doesn't really have room for survival stuff like I'd like. In my previous cars, I did have a sleeping back as well as bags of extra sweaters, sweats, hats and gloves. I don't keep food in there routinely. Probably should.
mhaithaca From: mhaithaca Date: December 8th, 2010 05:07 pm (UTC) (Link)

Brian cleverly suggests keeping a 3/4-full Nalgene bottle in the car, instead of full plastic water bottles that could freeze.
mhaithaca From: mhaithaca Date: December 8th, 2010 05:18 pm (UTC) (Link)

Also, find room for some of this stuff, whether it's tucked along the base of the seats under the hatch, or even under the passenger seat.
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