Natural Balanced Living & PrepareDness 

Surviving A Winter Crisis in Your Automobile

Winter Time Auto Survival


We travel many places in the winter never considering the consequences of being stranded in the cold for an extended period of time. All automobiles should contain a certain piece of basic survival equipment.

In the old days before the sophisticated electronic communications like cell phones and GPS tracking units came into being we carried a two-pound (tin) coffee can with a snap-on lid. Inside was a role of toilet paper, a large candle, matches, small collapsible drinking cup, and a pencil and paper for playing tick-tack-toe, a flashlight, and a wool blanket. The logic of these simple items may be lost on the modern day traveler, so, let me elaborate.

In case of being stranded in the cold and a blizzard or storm, the two-pound tin can lid would be used as a base to set the candle on while burning. The tin can its self like the solders helmet can be used in a variety of ways. The most appealing is to hold it over the candle with snow in it to melt the snow with for drinking water. An extended period dehydration is a major cause of isolation related death. The tin can be used for bathroom purposes as well.

You need a good unscented plane wax candle of 1 1/2 to 2 inch in diameter and 3 to 4 inches long. The candle while not producing a lot of heat will in a confined space like a car or pickup produce enough heat to ward of freezing to death. This is especially important as one doesn't want to run an auto in a stationary location for fear of carbon monoxide poisoning. That is why we have carbon monoxide detectors in our homes because carbon monoxide is odorless and very deadly.

Hypothermia is a very real threat and is a leading cause of death in cold weather related situations. Staying dry is critical at this time and heated or warm water will also assist in keeping the core body temperate elevated.

The candle too provides a sort of company to, a flicker that is soothing to the soul especially on a forever long dark winter night. It to can give off a slight glow to the outside world that says "someone is here". It also does not use up the oxygen at a rapid rate in your confined area.

Make sure you have a reasonable supply of safety matches or a small reliable butane cigarette liter. These and food products should be checked annually for reliability.

If you are not aware of what a space blanket is, then here you go. A space blanket is a thin mylar fabric designed to reflect your body heat back to its source. These emergency preserving blankets tend to be fragile and will trap moister as well. But when used as designed in an emergency situation they will reduce heat loss from a body in sub cold or cold situations.

I like to keep some energy granola bars, raisins, nuts and basic protein-sugar type snacks for two people for 48 hours in my kit too. Do not include in your eating supplies salty snacks. These tend only to make you thirsty. Use unsalted nuts, low sodium survival bars, and low sodium anything in way of food items are best.

The pencil and paper (preferably a small notebook) is good for helping to pass the time in the candlelight. Play paper games, journal, or learn origami to pass the time. Those hours can drag on to seem like days. Do not use it to leave a note on the auto or in the auto saying that you have left to go get help.

Now there is an interesting phenomenon that takes place in the mind of the stranded when they first get stranded. It is the urge to get out of their vehicle and go for help. Unless you know exactly where you are and exactly where you are going to for help when you leave your vehicle, do not go! Stay inside until assistance arrives or the weather abates and the daylight visibility is good. Even then you must have adequate clothing, headgear, foot gear, equipment, and ability. In this modern day you are by far more safe and secure to stay with and inside your auto. You will be rescued sooner or later. Maybe tired, cold, and hungry, but at least you stand a far better chance of survival than the future popsicle that leaves to go get help.

In this survival kit you will notice that I didn't mention flashlight and batteries. That is because they tend to be unreliable after a while and while serving a single purpose of seeing in the dark tend to run out quickly. They also encourage the stranded to go poking about in the dark looking for help, then run out of power leaving the stranded stranded a second time away from the vehicle and no shelter. The candle will provide light and heat and will last much longer in an enclosed environment and generally be more beneficial than a dead flashlight.

I would encourage as part of the survival kit one of the new shakeable recharging flashlights. They do not run out of power as long as one can shake them for recharging. These are not bright for very long, but will provide functional light by which to see for accomplishing menial tasks. Hopefully they won't encourage the stranded to leave the safety of their auto and go stumbling around in nowhere land until frozen stiff.

To recap, what your winter survival kit should contain.
o Small closable moisture resistant container to hold the following;
o Metal coffee can type container with metal lid (one or Two pound in size)
o Role of toilet paper, placed in the can when stored
o 1 ½ to 2 inch non-scented wax candle 3 to 4 inches long
o Safety matches (strike anywhere) and/or butane cigarette lighter
o Small collapsible drinking cup
o Pencil (not pen) and small notebook
o Multi purpose pocket tool (knife blade, pliers, saw, file, and such)
o Two space blankets
o Food for two (granola bars, raisins, unsalted nuts, etc.)
o Shakeable rechargeable flashlight
o Two pair of wool socks
o Two pair of stretch to fit knitted gloves

Optional items to include in your kit might be;
o Bag or bucket of Kitty Litter
o Old retired cell phone with 12 volt charger
o GPS tracking devise for autos that don't have them
o Paper back book of choosing for entertainment in case you run out of TP
o Possible small supply of meds which would be imperative

In the final comment, I prey that you spend the time and the nominal amount of money it takes to put your survival kit together. I prey that it is found to be a total waste of time. In other words, you hope you should never have to use it. Probably of the most importance part of this article is that you understand that you shouldn't leave your vehicle if you get stranded or stuck. It is always good to have filed a travel plan with someone who knows where you are going just in case you do not arrive as expected.

I will be happy at any time to talk with anybody about the makeup of their survival kit or the purpose for each item. Just because I have or have not listed an item here doesn't mean there might not be other items included. Your safety and that of your loved ones is up to you. I am trying to strike a spark from which you can ignite a small fire for survival.

This is the Money Miser saying that I don't often recommend that you intentionally spend funds on something that you don't intend to use, but I have for this purpose, won't you?

Winter Time Auto Survival

By Keith V. Loucks  

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