Ever since my children were babies, I have carried extra blankets, water bottles and snacks in my car. I’ve kept other emergency items in my vehicle as well, but I hoped I wouldn’t actually have to use them. Then one day, it happened. I found myself in a dire situation and in the middle of it all, a snowstorm hit. The temperatures dropped to below freezing and the heater in my car went out. I was away from home, nearly in the middle of nowhere, and help was a long way out from where I was.
It would be hours before help would arrive. My children and I were stuck on the side of a road in blizzarding conditions with no heat. That was a day I won’t ever forget, and I was grateful that the Lord had given me the wisdom to keep emergency items in the vehicle and to know what to do in the event of an emergency.
During the winter months, even warmer southern states can experience freezing cold weather. Because of this, it’s important to always be prepared in case you find yourself in an emergency. Following these tips can help spare you from a dire situation, potentially saving your limbs and your life.
ONE – Body
Cover up. I know this sounds like common sense, but you’d be surprised at how many people ignore this rule. Even if you don’t expect to be out in the cold very long, cover up. Body heat is lost through your head and skin, so when your skin is exposed and your head isn’t covered, you will lose a significant amount of body heat fairly quickly. The colder the temperatures, the more you need to cover yourself and protect your body from extreme temperatures. Wear layers if temperatures are close to freezing or below, with the outside layer hugging your body, preferably with waterproof material. If you begin to sweat you are at risk of losing more body heat, so wearing layers will make it possible to remove unneeded layers and better regulate your body temperature.
Wearing a hat will help keep your body heat from escaping too quickly. Wearing a warm, insulated coat will keep those frigid temperatures from entering your clothing. Wearing insulated gloves will protect the thin skin around your hands from losing heat. Frostbite is real and can happen in a matter of minutes. If need be, placing your hands under your armpits will keep them much warmer. Make sure to wear thick socks and insulated or weatherproof shoes or boots if possible. Scarves and earmuffs are a plus to protecting your neck, face and ears from cold temperatures as well.
TWO – Accessories
Blankets. Keep a few warm blankets in your vehicle. A good blanket with help keep your body insulated in case of an emergency, which is more reliable than your car heater. If possible, keep an extra pair of gloves and hats in your vehicle as well. Also, have a survival kit ready. Keep a flashlight with extra batteries. Have at least one gallon of water per person. If possible, keep canned food items. Have at least a few days’ worth of your prescription medications on hand. You can also purchase hand warmers such as these. Make sure to have a first aid kit available and an air-horn as well.
It would also be wise to also have heating fuel, keeping a lighter and/or matches and fire-starting materials available (such as paper). On that same note, keep a portable fire extinguisher handy as well. Naturally, have an ice scraper with snow brush on hand, windshield wiper fluid or a gallon of vinegar (vinegar will help unfreeze ice off your windshield.) If possible, have a shovel handy as well in case you must dig out any accumulating snow around your vehicle.
THREE – Tips
If you are travelling, make sure someone knows your route and destination, along with an estimated arrival time. Make sure your cell phone is fully charged and you have a charger with you. Be sure to fill your vehicle’s gas tank, and keep a supply of nonperishable foods and water in tow. Canned foods, nuts, granola bars and crackers are all items that are easy to keep on hand. Do not drink snow as snow can be polluted and can also contribute to hypothermia, which is a medical emergency where your body has lost too much heat and could lead to death.
If you happen to get stuck in your vehicle during a snowstorm, be aware that carbon monoxide could kill you if your exhaust becomes covered with snow. Carbon monoxide can backup into your vehicle. Because of that, if you have to run your vehicle, crack the windows to allow exhaust fumes to escape. It’s also recommended that you only run your car for ten minutes out of every hour. Stay inside your vehicle but continue to move your limbs and body to keep your blood flowing properly and keep your body warm. It is suggested that you tie a colored piece of cloth to your antenna to notify any passing emergency crews that you’re in need of assistance.
FOUR – Tools
Keep emergency flares and reflectors in your vehicle. Snowstorms can reduce visibility any time of day. Using flares and reflectors will allow other cars and emergency crews to see you if your vehicle becomes stranded on the road. Rock salt or kitty litter will help give your tires some traction if your vehicle is stuck in the snow, giving your car a path of escape. If possible, keep a rope or chain in the trunk of your car which can act as a tow chain if needed.
Jumper cables or a jumper starter can help you if your battery should die during inclement weather. Jumper cables require the assistance of another vehicle, but a jumper starter will start your vehicle without assistance. Both can help get your vehicle started and get you to a safe place much faster. Be sure to have a basic tool kit on hand as well. This will help you to perform simple maintenance on your vehicle if needed, even if you don’t know how to use them, it may come in handy for a helper on the road.
Make sure your tires are filled and have traction. Be sure to have a spare or dummy tire as well. It would be helpful to also have a can or two of flat tire aerosol inflator. A tire jack will also be needed if you happen to have a flat tire. Most vehicles are equipped with these items, but make sure you know where they are and how to use them, and that they’re in good condition and easily accessible. It would also help to carry a portable air compressor. Having a gas can will come in handy as well, especially if you can fill it with additional fuel prior to travelling.
FIVE – Medical Concerns
If you have pulmonary issues such as asthma, make sure to keep your mouth covered in cold temperatures. Cold air can cause your lungs to constrict and trigger an asthma attack or bronchospasms which cause the muscles within your airways to tighten, making it much harder to breathe, if at all. Make sure to carry any medications you might need with you such as inhalers and keep them close to your body – but easily accessible – so that the medications stay safe and warm.
Please know that even if you don’t have any known pulmonary issues, extremely cold weather can cause anyone’s lungs to constrict your breathing. Covering up your mouth will help keep you protected. The more time you spend outside, the higher your chances of injury so protect yourself.
If you suffer from any skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis, be sure to apply topical medications that will keep skin supple and moist, in order to prevent the cold air from exasperating your condition. KNOW that even if you do not have any known skin conditions, cold weather can dry and crack your skin. Keep moisturized and drink plenty of water.
Rheumatoid arthritis can also be exasperated in cold temperatures, causing a flare-up in autoimmune disorders. The drop in barometric temperatures can cause joint swelling and pain, which can contribute to worsening joint problems. Because of this, it’s important that you stay warm during cold temperatures.
Cold weather can put a strain on your heart as well. Because of this, it’s important to avoid over-exerting yourself while outside. If you must be physically active in cold temperatures, work slowly and do not over stress your body. If you begin to have difficulty moving, breathing, or begin to shiver, get indoors as soon as possible. These are signs that the cold temperatures are affecting you adversely and you are losing much needed body heat. Stop activity and go inside to a warm dry place until your body is able to resume normal activities.
Taking these precautions can save your life and the life of your loved ones – don’t take any chances!
God bless you!
Father God, we thank You that You are always with us, and won’t ever leave or forsake us. We pray that we won’t ever have to face this type of adversity, but if we do we thank You for Your presence and provision. We ask that You bless us with the gift of discernment during times of inclement weather. Help us to be prepared, showing good stewardship over our lives and the lives of our loved ones. We ask that You would make it possible to acquire all these items or most of them, Lord, so that we would have the basic essentials in the event of an emergency. We ask that You protect us during cold temperatures, that You would keep our bodies supernaturally warm, and that You would give us clarity of mind. We pray for Your children that are exposed to extreme weather, that You would protect them and keep them sheltered under Your mighty wings. We pray that You would keep all emergency personnel safe as they risk their lives to save others. Keep us safe and guard us, Lord. We thank You for Your protection, Your love, Your mercy and grace. In Jesus’ mighty and precious name we pray, Amen.
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