Letter Re: Readiness for Winter Driving Emergencies

Hi Jim, and Readers;    
Winter is here! After all of the winter preparations around the house, trying to winterize the chicken coop.  The snow has come, and to date in the last better than two weeks we have had a total of about four feet of snow already. Wow!  I now have about nine hours behind the snow blower, and snow plow already. I consider this work “Better than mowing grass any day in the heat”. I try to keep my driving to a minimum, especially on our local highway as much as possible. (The only way to any town in either direction)  When our first big snow a little more than two weeks ago, we were on the way to church, and passed seven vehicle slide offs, and one rear end collision, all in a stretch of just twelve miles. Today we were on the way to the local hardware store 25 miles away to purchase a toboggan for our grandson who is coming to visit Monday. Within the first ten miles into the trek we passed one slide off, and one semi trailer rig overturned into the ditch with about five emergency vehicles around it. Forget the toboggan, it was time to turn around and head home. 

Not more than an hour after returning home, I got a phone a call from our friends. They were still a hundred miles from their home, but just ten miles from us. the husband asked: “Dave, will you bring some wrenches to our mile marker?” Now the friend who called is a mechanic, and wrecker driver. After apologizing over and over, and saying he knew better, but he didn’t put a tool box in his truck. On the way to their location, I came up on a vehicle stopped on the road, no blinkers on, and smoke coming from under the hood. I pulled around them and pulled over about fifty yards in front of them and turned on my blinkers, got out and ask what the problem was.  One of the young men asked if I had any duct tape. I went back to the car and looked in my emergency 10 day pack and found no duct tape. Yes, I know better too.

Where I live we have snow on the ground from November until June, or sometimes even July. Now I always keep my “ten day bag” in that car, plus road flares, tow strap, a good come-along, heavy duty jumper cables, water,  snacks. I also carry other assorted items including engine oil, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, brake fluid,  o course the spare tire, jack, and tire irons. Now I don’t normally keep a small tool kit, but after today, the small tool kit, and duct tape, some heater hose (two sizes), hose clamps, large ones that can clamp all the way down, and capable of fitting any larger hoses in the vehicle. I of course have and end wrench to insure they are tight.  Now, here in this part of the country I do my best to always keep the fuel tank not less than half full even though we keep two large fuel tanks at the retreat.  We always carry window antifreeze, and antifreeze for the radiator (50/50 mix). 

I also keep a blue tarp, and two blankets, two parkas, warm gloves, two pull over wool caps. and a set of ice cleats for our boots. A military first aid kit, the kind issued for military vehicles . We also carry a good shovel, axe, saw, a pick would be nice, but here the shovel is adequate for most of the terrain we travel. (The dirt is all pumicy, volcanic ash.)  This pretty well takes up about one third of the rear compartment of our 4×4 Ford Expedition. Now the two vehicles we use most in the winter are a small Ranger pickup, and the Expedition. Our “snow plow” Blazer  is used only on our own own road, to clear for a few neighbors, and out to the highway from our home about two tenths of a mile. So I don’t carry any preps in it, Except a come along, and rope. And if I am using it, I am already bundled up warm. I have another large pickup that only is used on the road in the non-snowy season that is fully prepped in the Rawlesian way. It is a dually and quite squirrely on icy pavement. I do chain it up and keep chains on it through the winter, but it is just used for emergencies in the winter. And it is also our towing vehicle for  the G.O.O.D. trailer that is more than prepared than anything else.  Now, I have absolutely no intention in getting out of Dodge,  because I already live out of Dodge. Anyway the nearest big city is over an hour away on a good day.  Days like today it’s two three or four hours away.  But if I ever need to G.O.O.D., then I am ready.

I guess where I’m going with the preceding is that now is the time for all prudent preparedness folks to double check our emergency kits, and supplies in our vehicles. Think of the worst case situations, prepare for them, and hope for the best. Here where I live, we are soooo far out in the country that it could take hours for emergency vehicles to get to you if your in a slide off, or accident, because they are all occupied somewhere else up and down the highway.

In two of my vehicles I keep ham radio sets. I would love to install one in the big car, but keeping my wife happy is important too. So a good handheld will do until her mind is changed on her own.   That usually takes a real eye opening experience and the Lord changing her mind. I do recommend if you don’t have a ham radio license, please consider studying up and getting one. Or at least get a CB set and have one available in your vehicles. If for no other reason than to listen to the truckers and gain some vital intelligence when your on the road, about weather conditions, accidents, road blocks, and detours.

Drive carefully, especially on icy roads. And God’s blessings to you all. – Dave M. in Oregon