snow-plow

With snow in Washington DC piling up at a rate of an inch an hour today, it is a good time to check your vehicle’s emergency kit or start making one. If a blizzard dumped ten inches of snow on the roads while you were at work, what options do you have right now? How bad would it be if you had to spend a night or two in your vehicle or at the office?Do you have some hand warmers, a few bottles of water and some energy bars packed away in the trunk next to the jumper cables and first aid kit? How about a warm blanket, even an older one from the back of the closet that nobody would miss?

A good example of why it is a good idea to keep a few things around for emergencies in your vehicle is toilet paper. It is easy to keep a roll of TP in a ziploc bag, which can be easily stored under the passenger’s seat of most any car or truck. I don’t have to explain what will happen if it is one of “those times” when you just can’t wait to pull a few hand-fulls of the stuff off of a roll and there is not one around. Other than the most obvious use, it can serve as Kleenex, soak up blood and wipe windows, just to name a few. If you add matches and a lighter to an emergency kit, now you’ve got a way to start a fire and fluffy white tinder. 

When planning out your vehicle’s emergency kit, you can’t go wrong with some multi-use items like duct tape, a tarp, some rope and a few heavy duty trash bags. With a little creativity, these kinds of items can take the place of a pile of gear. The tarp can by set up off the side of your vehicle, like a tent, to block the wind and snow. Trash bags can act as a sleeping bag, be used to melt snow or turned into a poncho. Also, don’t forget to consider handy items like a flashlight, small shovel, knife, flares and tools.

It is not uncommon for people to get most of what they need for an emergency kit from stuff around the house. A spare cell phone charger and flashlight with extra batteries are often taking up space in a kitchen drawer or the garage. The important thing is to first cover the basics and then think through the specifics of your own situation. How far would you likely be from home when something bad happened? Maybe something as simple as a sturdy pair of shoes and a pair of good socks deserve a place in the trunk, if walking is part of your backup plan.  

There is not one emergency kit that will be a perfect fit for everyone. It is well worth the time to review your needs, put a kit together and keep it updated, since an arctic parka is just wasting trunk space in the middle of the summer. With a little thought, this can be as easy as just keeping some simple supplies in a small bag under the seat to give yourself more options when bad things happen.

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