Monday, January 3, 2011

Survival Situations #1: Winter Breakdown

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Tim said...

Hopefully you've got your "winter kit" in your car - including a blanket.... That would let you and the kid/s hunker down and stay warm for a bit.

I try to always keep something orange (a hankie, a towel, etc) in the car or in a pocket, so I'd tie it to the antenna and watch for any other cars - hopefully I could flag one down.

So - I'd probably hit things in this order:

Flashers on
Take a quick look to see if the problem is obvious
If not - (or if it's beyond what I can fix)
- grab blanket and wrap up the kid/s
- tie orange hankie/towel on antenna
- snuggle up and watch for other cars!

Road flares are great, but I've never had to use one, and after a couple of years, I got worried that it would become unstable, so I don't carry one anymore.

Could I walk 10 miles in the cold? Yes, I believe I could - but could my kids?

It's probably better to hunker down and watch for help.

Now - I'm an amateur radio operator, so in my particular case once we were secure I'd probably grab my HT and see if I can catch someone to send help, but for non-hams CB radios do work and there's generally someone around that you can catch..

Great topic! Thanks!


Kari said...

We keep a winter survival kit in our van during the winter.

We have in it:

- blankets
- candles and a tin (to make a small stove)
- lighters and matches
- flashlights
- hand warmers
- food
- enhanced first aid kit
- toys and books to entertain the kids

We're also HAM enthusiasts and have a radio in the van so in your scenerio I'd just turn on the radio and issue a help call.

adele57 said...

Actually I live (well will live once i move ) 23 miles from town in a very rural area like you described and the last 10 miles or so has no cell coverage. We also will have a winter kit in the van, but we don't have any kids so I wouldn't have to worry about that. Considering that hubby and I both have decided that if the weather is bad it is just time to stay home, we might not get in this situation at all, but I do like the thought of figuring out what to do in certain situations. Thank you.

Angela said...

Thanks for the comments!

We've discussed having something orange available all the time before. Now I'm adding it to my car kit also! We've got the hand warmers in the kit that would help take the chill off if you had to wait a while for help. Blanket is a must.

And I'm ham licensed also, but don't always have a radio with me--should probably do better at that one.

Good ideas so far!

Heidi said...

Oh, what a great idea! I love hearing what other people put, because I was immediately torn between whether we should hunker down or go out for help. Now I realize hunkering down with little ones is definitely the best idea (there's no way I could lug my 30-pound one-year-old without a stroller for 10 miles!).

We, too, have emergency kits.

The normal one has:
-extra clothes
-big sleeping bag
-hand/feet warmers

And for the winter, I throw in an extra duffel bag with:

I love Tim's idea for something orange. I'm assuming an orange bandanna would work? I'll be picking some of those up now-- thanks!

Oh! And I have a scenario I'd love to hear people's thoughts on...

A while back, a bridge collapsed (in Minnesota, I think?) and cars fell into the water. That immediately made me wonder what I could do to be prepared for that with really young children (we have bridges/water in our area--as well as earthquakes to help knock them down).

I now carry life preservers for each child within my reach and we do emergency evacuation drills of putting them on and exiting out the windows. I'd love to hear other thoughts as well! (I wanted to strap an inflatable raft on the roof, but my husband thought that was a little extreme...). :)

Tom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tom said...

I saw a Youtube video about an emergency heater made from a quart paint can, toilet paper, and Isopropyl Alcohol. Might be good in this type of situation...

Dunappy said...

Well first of all I carry a few specifics in the car all the time.
1. Blanket and extra coats.
2. Extra oil, coolant, and other vehicle fluids.
3. a multi tool and another weapon.
4. Flashlights
And since I don't have kids It's likely I'll never be out anywhere alone with any kids, but I'll be able to get home somehow.

Now first thing is I start looking to see why vehicle died. One time I had the coolant hose fall off the radiator on my way to work.
Thinks like that I can fix. If it's fixable, I'll fix it and drive on. If it's not fixable, what I do next depends on the how bad the weather is. Heavy blowing snow and low visibility means staying put and out of the weather until it clears. Just cold and clear means Hiking out along the road until I find a home or a town.

Tim said...

One of my favorite "Orange" things I have is this:

Full disclosure: the gent that produces TrailHankies is a scouting acquaintance of mine and for those interested CAN produce customized safety hankies (with Troop #s or whatever and such) in certain quantities....

I love the fact that it has basic first aid and general survival stuff on it...

Michelle said...

As a mother of small children, I keep a foldable wagon in my vehicle (a suburban). However, the wagon folds flatter than most strollers! The wagon also had a canopy. In our emergency kit (backpack) in the car we have trash bags, emergency blankets, and a tarp. I could use any of those to help enclose the wagon. I also keep several blankets in the car.

I too would try to wait for help, tying an orange item to my antenna.

If truly remote and not help arrives, and assuming the snow is not deep, I could use my wagon for my two kids and walk-- food and water and other emergency items ready to travel in my backpack.

I highly recommend keeping a stroller or wagon available for small children-- or even those under age 10 or so.

Michele Decoteau said...

I have a small emergency kit in my car for just such emergencies. While I am not too worried about my kids, 7 and 9, I do transport my husband's 87 year old grandmother on a weekely basis. Getting stuck on the side of the road is a real issue. Even an hour could be a problem - and who get AAA in less than an hour!?

I have body warmers, hand/feet warmers, extra blankets, food including hard candy, stuff to do, glow sticks, multi tool, flash light, duct tape, etc. My father in law just got me this cute German stove that is about 2 inches square. It folds out and has solid fuel pellets - might heat a cup or two of water for tea and warm up the inside of my small car.

It is always better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.

Spencer said...

If this happened today, I would probably die. I have some preparations to make and this is a good reminder.

In addition to the items already mentioned, I would want some extra socks and maybe shoes, especially if it was really snowing. There's nothing worse than wet feet.

Also, knowing this is an unusual rural trip for me, I'd let a friend know where I was going, and call them when I got there and when I got back. Ok, that might be extreme, but recognizing the location and weather conditions it may be a good idea. Also, to bring a map or GPS and to identify before hand on Google any farms or buildings along the way.

I like the folding wagon idea. Wonder if a small sled would work in the winter.

Knowing the town was ten miles away, I'd take a chance on reaching a farm or ranch within a few miles.

I drive my tractor in pearls... said...

I stay where I am and the kids and I play cards and games (which are in the car kit) and have a snack while we wait for my Hubs to come get us. I also have a blanket in the car for each of us.

I know this is "pretend" because there is no way he would let us go get something from someone on Craigslist without him :)

If by some chance he did, he would have already timed it out in his head and would probably give me a few extra minutes and then he would be in his car when I didnt answer my phone.

If in the remote chance I had to get out, I would start walking towards our farm intending to meet the hubs on the way.

The Christmas before this last one, we saw a HUGE amount of snow dropped on Christmas Eve. We had to stay home, but the next day traveled to my parents' house. We pulled several cars out of the ditch and out of snow with the winch on the front of my truck. It was great practice and a lot of fun.

It also reinforced what I knew I needed to have in the car and that is something I can trudge through ice, snow and water in.... And stay dry :)

Anonymous said...

Heidi, be careful using the life preservers. During military water survival I had to simulate ditching a helicopter in the water. As it filled up it rolled upside down. We were admonished to NEVER inflate our life preservers until we were OUTSIDE the helicopter. The reason for this is that the life preservers provide a level of buoyancy that may trap you INSIDE the aircraft, or vehicle in your case.

Imagine being trapped against the roof the car and unable to pull yourself out because you're fighting against the life preserver.

Its best to roll the windows down, let the vehicle fill completely with water, then escape out the nearest exit. Have your children practice holding onto a reference point (i.e.: door handle) so that if the car goes upside down they can always know which way to go by pulling themselves toward the reference point and out the window.

If you want to get them life preservers, look for the kind that use CO2 cartridges to inflate. They are less restrictive and will allow you and your children to escape much easier. Then just pull on the handle to inflate.

Finally, if they don't know how to already, make sure they learn how to swim. Also make sure they get to spend a lot of time in the water so they are familiar with it.

Hope that helps.

Badvoodoo said...

I have been shopping for winter clothes lately, I want to make sure that if things do turn bad during the winter that I have the right clothes to get through the cold. I have also made sure when I see a really good deal on a coat that might not be my size that I pick it up. You never know if all your family members are prepared for the cold if they lose there heat in their home. And always have extra food and preps in the car for a break down.

Anonymous said...

This is a similar situation, but I heard about someone who was found after a night in the cold by their car, and had apparently been locked out. The cold was the brutal type--below zero plus windchill, and I felt really bad about the fact that that happened to someone. I was talking to someone about it later, and they said they would have broken the window to get back in the car. Is that feasible? Would you be able to break the window quickly enough in those kind of temperatures so that you would hopefully restart the car and eventually get warm again, or would the broken window just eat up all the heat? I wondered why the person didn't just start walking--apparently this took place on a remote road, and it would have to have been deserted, because someone would have picked the person up. It was night time when this occurred, and by the next morning it was too late to do anything for this person.
So, this scenario haunts me. What would be the best thing to do in this situation? I would think it would be best to walk, but how far can you get in such severe temperatures, and how long can a person think straight when they start to get cold? Perhaps the person thought that it was best to stay with the car to get shelter from the wind, but apparently no one ever came by with help. I know I'm entering this conversation late, but would appreciate any ideas on this scenario because I would like to know what would be the best thing to do if you lock yourself out and can't do the "start the engine every ten minutes" schedule. One of the things I thought of was that the person went out to make sure that the tail pipe was clear so there would be no problems with air, and then were in a worse situation. Like, I said, I feel horrible that this happened to anyone...

ChristyACB said...

New here and usually I stick to just reading, but I can't resist!

For me, I'd pull out my Energizer 84020 All-in-One 12V 18Ah Battery Jumpstarter with Air Compressor and Power Inverter that I got myself for the holidays. ::giggle::

Everyone sort of rolled their eyes and laughed when I got myself that for a present and in this situation, I'm thinking the giggling would stop!

Seriously, if the car didn't start back up (though if it just petered out I'm thinking alternator and a good couple of charges could conceivably get me to a farmhouse), then I'd have to pull out the Winter Car GHB for everyone and use the OnStar to summon help. If the OnStar didn't work (and giving power from the Energizer will give plenty to run the OnStar BTW), then it would be bundle up from the GHB and track back to the last farmhouse.

Heidi said...

Oh man, I love this blog! And I love that I'm not the only person who thinks about these things... And I am totally getting a fold-up wagon for my van now!

Thank you so much for the tips on water evacuation!

In my drill (and my mind), I roll down the windows first (or break them with my car tool) and then get the kids unbuckled and out before the car fills. I had never thought about the car flipping over, though-- thank you for telling me that!

Also, I dream about getting the CO2 preservers someday, but right now we just have normal swimming preservers in the car. I'll make sure to adjust my plan so the preserver goes on right before they leave the car, so they don't get trapped by it. Do you think that would help?

Thanks again for all your awesome advice!

jj said...

This is not only a scenario in my life - it is probable, living in a rural area with blizzards being a common weather event.

Each of our cars (husband's and mine) has an emergency kit that includes water, hot chocolate mixes, granola bars, mitts, toques, heavy socks, boots, a blanket or two, candles, tin-can kettles, etc. We also carry basic tools and fluids (oil, antifreeze). Being big readers, we rarely leave home without a book or magazine.

In the situation you described, I would make myself warm and comfortable, and read until my husband came to get me. Because, of course, going out on an unfamiliar road in the winter, I let hubby know where I was going, what route I planned to take, and what time I would be back (or what time I would call by if I was going to be late)...