Countdown to Winter

     Winter will be upon us in the blink of an eye, many of the trees here in my area have already changed their color and some have also completely lost all their leaves, time to get ready.

I would like to focus today on being prepared with respect to your vehicle, we spend a great deal of time in our modes of transport and we should be prudent with some basic supplies that we should keep in them. It should go with out mention that first and foremost your vehicle should be in proper working order to start with, regular maintenance should always be in your mind because nothing can be more disheartening than being broken down due to something that could have been taken care of at an earlier date, common sense really helps here.

Two things that I really like to keep track of are proper radiator mixture and your battery condition.

An improper radiator mixture has the potential to ruin you whole day, you do not want to walk out in the morning only to find that your radiator has been split due to freezing, or worse yet you blow out your freeze plugs in your motor. Don't laugh people it happens every year but it is one of the easiest things to prevent with a little forethought so please get your antifreeze checked.

Another area to pay close attention to is your battery condition, this really comes into play during cold weather as a battery looses some of it's performance as the temp drops. It really sucks to jump into your car and turn the ignition only to hear CLICK CLICK CLICK. Fortunately this is another issue that can be headed off pretty easily, most reputable auto parts stores will provide a free battery load test that can measure the quality of your battery performance according to the manufacturers specs. Free maintenance here so please take advantage of it. Also while your battery is being tested they will usually look at the cables and more specifically they will look at the connections as this is where corrosion usually develops.

Now luck being what luck is, both good and bad that little guy Murphy will make an appearance and screw things up one way or another. Having a few basic supplies in your vehicle can make the difference between having a minor inconvenience or a major life threatening situation. Face it we all have a few nooks and crannies available to us that we can store a few thing to get us by in the case of a breakdown, why would we not. Below  is a rough list that can be tailored to your needs and location.

  • Spare tire, yeah it happens. You have a jack as well right? Lug nut wrench? While you at it are you sure you can change the tire by yourself? Try doing it in your driveway and see, it would be much better to fail their where you can get help in doing it right than finding out the hard way on the side of the road.
  • Jumper cables? That's like AMEX, you should never leave home without them. As with this item there is a proper way to do it and the internet is riddled with instruction on there proper use, your local auto parts store will help as well. Some jumper cable manufacturers also have written and pictorial instructions that come with their product.
  • Communications, I generally like to have at least two forms and the first being my cell phone and 9 time out of 10 this will work for you. My backup for me is a CB radio due to the fact that it is a stand alone system and it works when cell phone may not, the limiting factor though is that you need to have   someone with in range of you for it to work. Another good option if you do have to travel in bad weather is to let someone know where you are going and what time you are supposed to be there and check in when you do get there because if no one knows you missing than they can't report it, simple common sense. 
The next group of items I would recommend are the ones you can really tailor to your own needs.
  • Blankets, If your car stops running it will get really cold real quick.
  • Snack foods, what can I say, comfort foods come to mind.
  • Water, this can be a tough one due to freezing so you may need to add it daily before you go out or go without.
  • A small first aid kit because you just never know, I would also include a 1 to 3 day supply of any special medications you may be on.
  • Flashlight, maybe a combination flashlight, radio, signal device, more here is better.
  •  Spare jacket, socks, gloves.
As you can see the above list is very basic and it can be expanded upon greatly but everyone has different needs and circumstances to consider.

Do you have a list of items that you like? please feel free to chime in.

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Terri said...

Great information just a couple things to add.

A good tow strap so that somesone can pull you out.

Sand bags not only for weight but also added traction if you need it.

Adventures in Self Reliance said...

Good heavy duty gloves for fixing that tire. I have 2 cans of the fix a flat stuff as I'm not able to change a tire. I have a little folding sterno stove for warming the car and a cup of soup, a solar panel to keep the battery charged even if I run out of gas. For radio some power.

Mark in TX said...

I always have a "get home bag" in both of our vehicles. It contains:

bottled water x 2
emergency food x 2 (survival bars)
emergency blanket
10hr chemical hand warmer
4 different ways to start a fire
50 ft cordage
trash bag
extra pair of socks
first aid kit
personal care items (sunscreen, lotion, lip balm, advil, immodium, tylenol, aspirin, benadryl, all changed twice yearly)
coffee filters
water purification pack
"stuff" box (safety pins, paperclips, nails, needle, thread (dental floss), wire ties, mirror, rubber bands)
bungee cords
emergency saw
wind-up flashlight/radio
battery flashlight

it all fits in an 8x8x12 softside tackle box under the floor in the back of our SUV's. We always make sure to have a heavy coat and/or blanket in the vehicle if temps fall below freezing.

Year round, this bag contains everything I need to "get home" from wherever I am when the SHTF.


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