Thursday, January 6, 2022

Winter Weather Car Survival

The dust has settled and the First 72 Hours have passed. Follow along as I build a long term plan via Prudent Prepping.

Winter is definitely here, even in California. While my part of the state is not cold, the Sierra mountains have quite a bit of snow for this time of year, but even at just a bit over 17ft, this is still short of what is needed to get drought worries put to rest. We haven't had travel problems like those in Virginia, but there certainly have been road closures. Over the holidays, a friend was leery of being stranded and so drove south from the Bay Area, east towards Las Vegas and then north to Reno! I don't know if I would have gone to that extreme to avoid being stuck, but planning ahead is sometimes better than scrambling to find a solution.

Winter Prepping
I said I don't get snow, but this year we are getting rain, and being wet at 50° will get you in trouble almost as fast as being dry inside a 10° car. Being adequately prepared for the areas you will travel through is as important as your normal, day-to-day preps. If you are living in areas that freeze regularly, many of the suggestions from the AAA will be things that are second nature to you, but not so much for us. Some excerpts from the linked page:

Cold Weather Driving Tips
  • Keep a bundle of cold-weather gear in your car, such as extra food and water, warm clothing, a flashlight, a glass scraper, blankets, medications, and more.
  • Make certain your tires are properly inflated and have plenty of tread.
  • Keep at least half a tank of fuel in your vehicle at all times.
  • Never warm up a vehicle in an enclosed area, such as a garage.
  • Do not use cruise control when driving on any slippery surface, such as on ice and snow.
  • Stay home. Only go out if necessary. Even if you can drive well in bad weather, it’s better to avoid taking unnecessary risks by venturing out.
One of the things I learned the hard way was not to leave my extra water in the trunk when traveling to Reno. While I didn't need any on that trip, it would have been... inconvenient... to need to defrost  it before drinking. Another was to get antifreeze windshield washer fluid, since the standard Rain-x Bug Remover I use will freeze solid, which is enough to damage the little pump.

If You Get Stranded
Since you planned ahead (right?), being stuck will only be an inconvenience and hopefully not life-threatening. More tips from AAA for what to do if you get stuck in the snow:
  • Stay with your vehicle: Your vehicle provides temporary shelter and makes it easier for rescuers to locate you. Do not try to walk in a severe storm. It is easy to lose sight of your vehicle in blowing snow and become lost.
  • Don’t over exert yourself: When digging out your vehicle, listen to your body and stop if you become tired.
  • Be Visible: Tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna of your vehicle or place a cloth at the top of a rolled up window to signal distress. At night, keep the dome light on if possible. It only uses a small amount of electricity and will make it easier for rescuers to find you.
  • Clear the Exhaust Pipe: Make sure the exhaust pipe is not clogged with snow, ice or mud. A blocked exhaust pipe can cause deadly carbon monoxide gas to leak into the passenger compartment of the vehicle while the engine is running.
  • Stay Warm: Use whatever is available to insulate your body from the cold. This could include floor mats, newspapers or paper maps. Pre-pack blankets and heavy clothing to use in case of an emergency.
  • Conserve Fuel: If possible, only run the engine and heater long enough to remove the chill. This will help to conserve fuel.
Nature Calls
Yes, there's the potential for needing to use the toilet when there's no place to go. Believe it or not, there are several different guides on how to deal with this not unexpected situation, and the one I have passed on to several friends is this one from wikiHow. It addresses both men and women's needs, with more details given from a woman's point of view. After several road trips with women of varying degrees of squeamishness, I can tell you that wikiHow covered all the important parts. 

For the budget-minded, mayonnaise jars will also work for a disposable container and from a very small sample group of one, the female 'directing device' works better than expected. The important points recapped:
  • If you’re a male (and aren’t driving), you can try peeing out of an open car window. Take note that you’re risking getting caught by authorities, possibly paying a hefty fine.
  • If you don’t want to stop the car and pull over, an adult diaper is an alternative option.
  • Females squatting by the car should pay attention not to pee onto their pants or shoes.
  • For males urinating behind the passenger door: Pointing the stream directly at the ground rather than having it arch out, will avoid the stream sparkling in oncoming headlights, thus drawing less attention.
  • If you are female, make sure to open both passenger doors so no passersby see you.
  • Make sure you alert the driver before the urge is unbearable, because stopping may not be possible and you could end up peeing your pants.
  • You may want to cover up with a blanket when in a car urinating; just make sure you can see what you are doing.
  • If you are really desperate, you can use something else with a wide mouth, like a shopping bag.
 Recap And Takeaway
  • Add to your normal preps with weather-specific gear when traveling. I put in extra socks, pants and rain coat or poncho.
  • Don't forget high calorie, low-bulk and easy to eat snacks. If you're in a cold winter/snow area, a small stove with pots and easily cooked food would be a good addition. Keep your water from freezing, if possible.
  • STAY HOME. If you have to travel, be ready for the worst.
  • Prep your vehicle as thoroughly as you plan for you and your passengers.

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NOTE: All items tested were purchased by me. No products have been loaned in exchange for a favorable review. Any items sent to me for T&E will be listed as such. Suck it Feds.

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