Winter travel: are you ready to survive?

Today the thermometer is in the negative. An unprepared walk could be fatal. Are you prepared to wait or walk to safety? In this type of weather there are always people discussing how awful it is, but how many are ready for it? I would venture a guess that very few truly are. I would also comfortably say that many are driving to their destination in a tee shirt, with only a light jacket. So what you say. A tow truck only takes about an hour. here is a link to some hypothermia information. Is there enough gear in your vehicle to wait that hour, without hypothermia? If you have to walk it out are you prepared for that?

Here are some ideas on being ready

Dress for the weather

The very first action that you can take to ensure that the frosty temps ruin or end your day is to dress for the conditions. Layers, thermals, and good outer shell garments will help to “thicken your skin” to the cold. Standard street clothes will do very little to preserve your precious body heat in very cold weather.

Manage the heat you have

Once your layered up manage the heat that is available to you. It is tempting to get in the car and bury the heat dial on the hottest temperature available. When you are properly layered this is not necessary , and in most cases is counter productive. Sweat is not your friend here since heat is transferred faster from a sweaty body than a dry one.

Is the car ready..

Is your vehicle ready to brave the elements? It is tempting many times to assume that the nagging issue with your vehicle will limp through. While this could be a nice little adventure on a summer night or Sunday afternoon. When it happens on a sub zero night adventure can become nightmare. If you have a weak battery, known mechanical issue or anything else it may be better to re think the journey. Another idea is to take a walk around your vehicle, and look for anything that is amiss. The final piece is to be sure the vehicle has ample fuel. While I’m sure that last bit generated a “duh” I’m sure every one of us including myself have jumped in the vehicle and thought “that’s enough fuel to get there and back”.

Food, water, fire, and shelter

All but one of these items you can go with out if you have to for a while. Having them all there though creates an ability. The ability to sustain life. If you do not already have one consider creating a 72 hour bag. These bags go by a plethora of names, and their contents are somewhat like fingerprints. No two are the same. There is however a constant among them all, every one that is worth a tinkers damn contains food, water, fire, and sometimes shelter. Consider creating one if you have not already, it could save your bacon.

Do you truly know where you are?

This piece I think is the most overlooked factor. You may have a GPS in your vehicle, or on your phone but do you truly know where you are? Do you know the fastest way from A to B? Extreme cold weather is not the time to realize that exploring back roads can get you way out of town. Know the route you will be using, know the landmarks, and know where the resources are. A good tool for doing this is Google maps. Even if it is the route you take to work everyday, a look at a satellite picture may very well reveal things you never knew were there. The maps are printable so why not have one with you? Mark it up as you go. If you notice that cutting through a farmers field is drastically shorter than sticking to the pavement, make a note of it. The very worst case scenario here is that you carry a couple of pieces of marked up paper around and never use them. The very best? The maps you made save you a four mile walk at -15.

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