Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Travel: basic precautions

Ran into a friend of mine today and we had a chance to chat. Her husband, daughter, and herself, almost froze to death. They were on a hundred mile trip, mostly on isolated back roads. The heater in the car failed. At the same time, they were having engine problems. They came very close to being stranded in the middle of nowhere, during subzero weather.

They piled their coats on the little girl to keep her warm. Both parents were in the early stages of hypothermia by the time they got back to civilization. It could have been worse. Winter coats were almost left behind as they are big and bulky. Once the car warms up, big coats are only in the way. People get used to relying on their vehicle's heater -a serious mistake.

In normal day to day travel, my truck has four space blankets, two emergency shelters, and three ways of making fire. On a trip like my friends took, I'd also add a couple winter rated sleeping bags, extra water, and a thermos of coffee. Always insisted my family members "dress like you'll have to walk home." You never know.

Technology fails. You don't have to.

Before all you warm climate people get too smug. How often do you rely on your car's AC? Do you have sensible warm weather clothes? Good walking shoes? Plenty of water? Getting stranded in triple digit temps dress in a suit and without water is no fun either.

Ask yourself how you'd do if you had to walk the distance you can drive in a half hour.



  1. have also carried a homemade survival candle in a jar; butr also a kerosene hurricane outdoor lantern, quart of fuel, and a large block of wood. with the windows open just a "crack" kept warm on many a cold night till help arrived. place the lantern or candle on the block of wood so you don't singe the carpet or mat.

    chemical heat packs are also great items to stash in your kit especially if you have to hike it out.


  2. We've lost four people this year to exposure. Two of them tried to walk home after getting stuck and neither of them got farther than 1/3 mile from their cars.

  3. Good advice, especially with the weather being thrown at us this winter.

  4. My wife once got stranded less than a mile from our house. She stayed with the car. I knew when to expect her home. When she didn't show, I grabbed a tow strap and a crosscut saw and went looking for her. Was able to pull the car back on the road. No harm done. Funny thing, she was close enough to home that she just thought to herself: I've got it made now. Then her tire caught soft snow and pulled her into the snowbank.

  5. Good points on the warm weather stuff too. I keep a gallon of water, a gallon of coolant, tools, extra serpentine belt, etc. in my truck. Now I'm going to add a sun shirt and walking shoes...