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  • 6 Days Stranded in a Car: The Case for Winter Driving Preparedness

    Anyone who has spun off an icy road knows the dangers of winter driving. But when a family was traveling from Oregon to California, their trip took a dangerous turn.

    stranded-family-via-yahoo-news The Sanquist family - via Yahoo News

    Following their GPS to reach their destination in the fastest way possible, the Sanquist family found themselves stuck on a snow-covered road. The mother and father were with their 9-year-old daughter and the family dog. They were trapped overnight, but managed to make the trek out for help in the morning.

    Ron, the husband and father, lamented that cell service was unavailable, and they had no shovel to use in order to dig themselves out. If his two-mile hike in the morning hadn’t given him cell service, who knows how much farther he would have had to walk in the snow?

    Another, similar experience that happened to a couple in Wyoming was even more dangerous.

    In 2013, Mark Wathke and his wife, Kristine spent six days in their car – stuck in a foot of snow – before they were found. Again, they were following their GPS, trying to get to Montana from Yellowstone National Park, when it took them down a highway that is always closed during the winter due to treacherous weather conditions.

    “We never saw any road-closed sign, any barricades,” said Kristine, “[nothing] indicating it was trouble.”

    But trouble there was.

    All they had in their car was a bit of food for their road trip, and by the time they realized they weren’t going anywhere, all that was left was eight pieces of bread, half a jar of jelly, and a few bottles of water. During the nights, temperatures dropped below zero. They put on layers of clothing from their suitcases to stay warm.

    They even got out a notebook and wrote goodbye letters to their friends and loved ones.

    Fortunately, on the sixth day, a rancher found them on his snowmobile. He was able to rescue them and see them safely off.

    Both scenarios show two different groups equally unprepared. Fortunately, both parties eventually got out of their predicaments, but only after a frightening experience. Both groups were regular people, just like you. So what sets you aside as someone who would fare better?

    Preparation is one thing. Your trunk should have some sort of emergency kit, consisting of food, water, warmth, and some necessary tools like a radio, whistle, and shovel. These are all items both groups could have benefited from while stuck in the snow. Small, folding shovels tuck nicely into a corner of your trunk. They don’t take up much room, but are certainly a welcome companion when you need to dig out your car.

    Nobody plans on getting stuck in the snow. In both these examples, they were even following directions from their GPS. Even if you think your directions are reliable, don’t put yourself in danger if the roads or terrain looks even slightly risky.

    But above all else, make sure you have the gear you need to survive a lengthy stay in the cold should you find yourself in a similar situation.

     

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  • Give the Gift of Preparedness this Christmas

    Christmas RolloverHomer Robertson was driving south on Interstate 15 in Utah when he saw a minivan cross the median, hog his side of the freeway then roll over. He stopped to help and found three children and three adults, one of whom was pregnant and hemorrhaging.  Fortunately, Robertson knew emergency first aid. He got someone to call 911, then he, a nurse and a deputy who arrived on the scene treated the family for injuries and shock until paramedics took over.

    This time of year, many of us give gifts like emergency food and gear. We can give gifts of preparedness like these. And, as Mr. Robertson did, we can give gifts of our own preparation and knowledge.

    I asked several members of my extended family about gifts of preparedness they like to give and receive.

    “I like to give things you don’t normally think about, like stuff for the car,” said sister-in-law Savannah.

    She likes to give roadside emergency kits, blankets, flashlights, water, and snacks – which she said are especially useful when kids are in the car.

    Christmas

    I got jumper cables for my car while I was in college many years ago. I’ve used them at least yearly since then, through many years and many vehicles, to jump others’ car batteries. This year, they proved handy when my own vehicle’s battery died. They were a gift that continues to give.

    A first aid kit for a vehicle is another gift that can keep giving. It’s great for minor scrapes, bumps, and pain when you’re out and about, even if you never use it for a major incident.

    Robertson said when he was helping after the minivan’s accident, a deputy arrived with a huge first aid kit. The first thing the deputy did, before he approached the scene, was put on latex gloves. He asked Robertson to help treat a woman’s bleeding wrist. Robertson didn’t have gloves.

    “I look at my hands, and he says, ‘get some gloves’ [from the deputy’s first aid kit].”

    Since then, Robertson has carried latex gloves in his own first-aid kit.

    Robertson also likes preparedness gifts that stay home, like wheat grinders and grain.

    “I’d like to get into freeze-dried food, if they knock off about $550 off the equipment,” he joked.

    My sister-in-law, Stephanie, enjoys giving less-expensive preparedness gifts.

    “I think it’s fun to give [Mylar] space blankets. I don’t know if people like getting them, but they’re fun to give,” she said.

    Christmas

    I gave my son, a Boy Scout, hand and foot warmers for his winter campouts. (If you buy a bunch, hand warmers cost less at beprepared.com than at the dollar store.)

    My brother Mark gave hand-cranked flashlights to his young children. Not only are they useful in emergencies, they’re sturdy enough for the kids to play with, he joked.

    The gift of preparedness doesn’t have to be a physical item. Robertson was able to provide first aid after the minivan accident, and on several other occasions, because he took first aid classes. Consider taking a first aid course – or paying for one for someone else – through the American Red Cross or American Heart Association.

    Learn how to perform basic car repair, like how to change a tire. Learn how to sew on buttons or hem clothes, so you can help yours and others’ clothes last longer. The gift of preparedness provides endless opportunity for self-improvement – and can save you money.

    The gift of preparedness is powerful, because it allows you to serve others long after Christmas decorations are put away. Isn’t that Christmas at its best?

     

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  • Trapped in Traffic: Prepare Your Car for Winter Driving

    For Thanksgiving, my brother-in-law, his wife, and a few cousins drove from Utah to California to visit family for the holiday. As they were driving back to Utah the following Sunday, the weather turned sour. It wasn’t snowing heavily – just light rain and sleet, according to my brother-in-law – but that didn’t stop a wreck from happening 80 miles away from their home.

    winter-traffic winter drivingFortunately they weren't involved, but traffic was at a standstill. They would later discover that a semi-truck had jackknifed on the freeway, blocking all lanes. My brother-in-law took a side road – along with everyone else on the freeway – in order to get around the accident. As it turned out, traffic slowed to a crawl – and then full on stop – on that road as well. They moved six miles in an hour and a half. It was 8:00 at night, and they had work and school the next day.

    Later, they learned what had caused the stoppage on the access road – another semi-truck had jackknifed.

    Such experiences can be very frustrating. Fortunately, they all made it back safe and sound. The only casualty was a bit of sanity and some much needed sleep. But they’re alright, and that’s what matters.

    Winter has arrived here in Utah, and if it hasn’t arrived for you yet, it could very soon.

    We talk a lot about preparing your home and food storage for emergencies and disasters (which also includes winter), but today we’d like to help you get your car ready for winter driving conditions.

    First off, how’s your car’s emergency kit? Just like in your home, your car should be prepared with the essentials, just in case you slide off the road or are otherwise stranded in the cold. Ready.gov has a list of necessary items for your car’s kit. Some of those include the following:

     

    • Shovel
    • Windshield scraper
    • Flashlight
    • Water
    • Snack food
    • Blankets and warm clothing
    • Road salt/sand
    • Booster cables

     

    These are some of the basic necessities that need to go with you wherever you travel throughout the winter. Of course, you may have special circumstances and needs which you should prepare for as well, such as medications, pet supplies, or other such items.

    Thinking back on the experience of my brother-in-law, what might have happened if they had things not worked out for them? My first thought is gas.

    What would their trip home have been like if their gas tank had been low going into that traffic jam? During a chilly winter night, they could have been stuck without heat. Blankets, hats, mittens, and other warm clothing would have been a very welcomed resource in that situation. Fortunately, their gas tank was full enough until they could reach the next town (the towns are spread out quite far in the area in which they were stuck, so things could have been a lot worse).

    winter driving

    If they had been stuck on the road, snacks and water would not only do wonders for their morale, but help keep them hydrated, alert, and functioning properly in the event they needed more than just corn ships. Flashlights would have been useful in checking under the hood in case of car trouble (or having light by which passengers could read while they wait). A traffic jam is one thing. Sliding off the road in the middle of nowhere and having to wait for help to arrive would certainly require an emergency stash of gear.

    And the list goes on.

    You see, we never can plan for disasters (including two jackknifed trucks blocking two roads on one trip). That’s why it’s so important to have emergency gear and supplies in your car. The example scenarios above are only meant to give a hint of what could have been – the possibilities of what could have happened are many.

     

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