Preventing Winter Emergencies

Nobody is prepared for an emergency.  A person can, however, take preventative measures to minimize the dangers.  In an Aroostook winter, even a simple skid can turn into an emergency situation in an instant.  Heavy amounts of snow combined with temperatures well below freezing can trap unprepared motorists.  This article will inform people of five items to keep in their cars in the winter, and how each of the items could save their lives.  Though these steps can prepare motorists in the event of an emergency, telling someone else where you’re heading before you leave is the most effective.

The first item that should be in every Aroostook County vehicle is a blanket.  Whether the blanket is shoved in the trunk or folded in the back seat, a blanket ensures there will always be heat, and they use up little space.  When a motorist calls for a tow in the winter, it takes a lot longer for the tow truck to arrive, and when it does, the tow truck driver’s priority is the vehicle.  Waiting with the vehicle is always the smartest course of action, and without a blanket it could be a very long and very cold wait.  Waiting inside a vehicle trapped in the snow as it idles can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.  The passenger compartment will fill with carbon monoxide if the exhaust of the vehicle is plugged with snow.  For this reason, running the vehicle for heat may not be an option.  It’s best to have a blanket.

The next item is actually a few items: a warm hat, pair of gloves, and insulated and waterproof footwear.  Vehicles leave the roadway in winter, largely due to ice and limited visibility.  A short walk from where a car stopped back to the roadway is almost inevitable.  Without the proper clothing, people could find themselves treading through mid-January, waist-deep snow wearing gym-shorts or a crop top.  It takes seconds for snow to soak a pair of sneakers, and a North Face coat only can keep you so warm in -10*F wind chills.

See the pattern here?  Keeping warm is going to be the toughest challenge and risking carbon monoxide poisoning is too risky.  The third item all motorists should have in their winter kit is hand or foot warmers.  They are inexpensive and provide heat for hours.  Hopefully the tow truck arrives before then.  Hand or foot warmers are a cheap insurance policy that can protect a person from frostbite.  All they require is a simple snap with the hands and instantly the warmer makes heat.

All previously mentioned items are in the car.  The idea is that the vehicle went off the road and all occupants are safe and warm while waiting for help.  The next item that should be in all winter vehicles is an external battery for a cell phone.  External chargers are less than $20 and can charge a phone to full rather quickly.  Without a charged cell phone, calling for help is that much harder: some models of external chargers include a flashlight, too.  This would be a necessity at night.  Of course, most smartphones are equipped with a flashlight, so motorists making sure that puppy is charged should be a first priority.  Without a cell phone, there is no way stranded people can let friends or family know that help is needed.  Motorists could find themselves at the disposal of other people driving by.  This opens a whole new set of dangers.  It’s in the best interest of all motorists to charge their phones before they leave the house.  And don’t forget to keep the charged backup charger in the vehicle for emergency use.

The fifth and final item that every car in Aroostook County should contain is a set of booster cables.  Electricity and cold don’t mix well.  Even good cars will not start in the cold and having a set of booster cables, and a generous friend, can save a person a couple of tow-truck calls a season.  There are even mobile battery boosters that motorists can keep in their vehicles to independently boost their vehicles.

Whether people have 20 years of winter driving experience in Aroostook County or two months, they are almost equally likely to have an incident.  Ice knows no master and the best preventative measure you can take is using appropriate precautions before hitting the roadways.  Cars without snow tires are useless on Aroostook roads this time of year: staying in or finding a different way to travel is recommended.  If travel is unavoidable, travelers always should tell a trusted person of their destination.  Taking these precautions will help any motorist stay safe in an emergency situation.