What to Do if You Are Stranded in Snowstorm on Highway

Snowstorms are typically not a surprise, but their intensity can take weather forecasters by surprise, which means you are also going to be caught off-guard. When you are traveling across a state or even just trying to commute home from work and a snowstorm wreaks havoc, you could find yourself stuck. Not stuck in a snowbank, but stuck on the freeway. Highway closures are very common when the state patrol determines the roadways are just too unsafe for people to use. If there have been a number of wrecks, slide-offs or a single serious accident, the road can be shut down for hours or even overnight.

This is why you must always be prepared to hang out in your car for hours. You never know when the road may close in front of you. There is no turning around or finding another way. You are stuck along with hundreds of others. The freeway because a giant parking lot.

Before you ever leave the house this winter, you should always be prepared. Even if you are just going to work the next town over. Rural highways are often the least maintained, which means you are at an increased risk of finding yourself stranded.

*Pack along a gallon of water. Avoid using milk jugs and either buy a few water bottles to keep in the car or one of the heavy-duty plastic containers.

*Carry energy bars and other snacks like beef jerky, trailmix and so on. If you are traveling with kids, make sure you have their favorite snacks to keep them entertained.

*Toilet paper. Yep, you are going to be using the bathroom along the highway. A little toilet paper will go a long way to making it a little better.

*Books or other entertainment items will be helpful to pass the time. You don’t want to drain the battery on your phone.

*A car charger for your cell phone or tablet. A portable charger is even better so you don’t have to use the car battery.

*A couple of wool blankets will help keep you warm. You won’t be able to have the car idling for hours—you will run out of gas.

*A flashlight will be needed if you need to go to the bathroom or you want to read. Again, you don’t want to run the car battery down by relying on the interior lights.

Winter Weather Tips by Those that Know

There are plenty of areas that are getting hit with snowstorms that are breaking records. Anytime you have records being broken when it comes to the weather, people are going to have a tough time adjusting. Sometimes, you can’t just ride it out. You have to be prepared to be stuck at home for days on end, with the kids stuck home from school.

Areas that are not used to or prepared for snow are going to suffer the worst. Learn from the folks who live in areas that get plenty of snow. Those are the people who know how to ride out a storm in relative comfort without any major damage to their home.

Here are some tips from those that have been there, done that.

Roof Rakes

If your home is in an area that isn’t accustom to heavy snowfall, you are going to need this. Snow is heavy. You need to pull it off the roof before it causes major structural damage or collapses altogether. If you missed the boat and didn’t get one before they all sold out (which they will) a metal leaf rake will work. Scrape the snow as soon as you can.

Snow Shovel

Again, these are going to go fast. Shovels that are metal are going to be a little more durable. If you are dealing with heavy, wet snow, a metal shovel is best. Keep your walkways clear—stay on top of this. Once things start to melt, the slush hits and then it freezes and then you have a big, dangerous mess.

Supplies

Keep supplies like flashlights, candles and portable cell phone chargers on hand. Heavy snow can knock down powerlines or cause tree limbs to fall, taking down a line. You will also need to keep some non-perishable food on hand. Don’t break into the non-perishables first. Eat the leftovers out of the fridge first.

Heat

If you don’t have a second source of heat, you need to get one. A space heater can keep one room warm should your furnace break down. You are not going to be the only one having furnace trouble. You could end up on a waiting list for days. During that time, you need to be able to stay warm. If you are dealing with a power outage, a space heater isn’t going to help. A woodstove is ideal, but if it isn’t possible, know how to keep warm without power.

Time

Give yourself plenty of time if you have to drive in the snow. You can’t expect to jump on the freeway and do the posted speed limit. Take it easy. Have supplies in your vehicle, just in case you get stranded or find yourself stuck in traffic because of an accident. Take along things like kitty litter and a snow shovel. If you do slide off the road, kitty litter thrown under the tires can give you some traction. If you have went into a snowbank, you will need the shovel.

Dress for the Weather

Even if you are just running to the store or dropping the kids off at school, dress like you will be walking through the snow. Wear boots and take along a coat, hat and gloves. If you do happen to get stranded, you don’t want to be walking for help wearing your tennis shoes and without a coat.

Snowy weather can be fun and it will provide plenty of entertainment for the kids. Be ready to hang out and enjoy the time together. It is only temporary.

Getting Ready for Winter in the Middle of Summer

firewoodIf you live in mountain country or an area where wood heat is a staple, you have probably already started collecting the wood you will burn through winter. Relying on a woodstove to heat a home is a common practice for many in cold areas because it tends to be cheaper and more reliable. A winter storm that knocks out the power can leave those who rely on a furnace for heat in the cold. No power and no heat can be life-threatening. As a prepper, you need to have a backup heat source, like a woodstove or a fireplace. It is common sense and often one of the first things on the list for a prepper.

The investment into a woodstove will run you anywhere from $500 to $2000 depending on the size of the stove and how much work needs to be done to install a chimney. If you can swing it, this is the summer to get it done. Buying a woodstove out of season is going to get you the best deals. You can get the clearance models that need to go before the new stock comes in for the upcoming winter.snow WV

Once you get your fireplace or woodstove in, it is time to start stockpiling wood. Depending on the size of your house and the average winter temperature, you could burn anywhere from 2 to 10 cords of wood. You have a couple of options for getting wood.

You can have it delivered already cut and ready to be stacked in a shed or somewhere you can keep it relatively out of the weather. You can save a little money by having rounds delivered, but you better be ready to do a lot of work. You will need to split the giant rounds in order to get the right size logs for your stove.

Another option is going to cut the wood yourself. You can buy a permit from the forest service that allows you a certain amount of wood. You will only want to take downed trees. In many cases, you will need a chain or some way to drag the log down a hillside. From there, you will need to use a chainsaw to cut the wood small enough to load into your truck or trailer. Once you get home, it is more cutting, splitting and stacking.

If you have your own property, you can use downed trees as a source of wood. You are also free to chop down any trees on your property and use those for wood. You will of course want them to dry out for several months to a year before you try burning.

Now is the time to think about winter readiness. You never know when the first winter blast is going to hit and getting caught unprepared could be disastrous.

Planning a Winter Bug Out

blizzard-15850_150If you are in any part of the country that gets typical winter weather that includes snow, ice, rain and frigid temperatures, your bug out plan must account for the dangerous conditions. Bugging out of your safe and warm home in the dead of winter could be more dangerous than riding out whatever is headed your way. Hypothermia can set in within three hours if you are exposed to the extreme cold. Frostbite can begin in as little as 20 minutes when it is cold and there is a serious windchill.

If you don’t absolutely have to leave your home, you should always try to find a way to shelter in place when the weather is extreme. If you have no other choice but to leave, you must take extra precautions to ensure you can stay alive.

Extra gear will be critical to your survival in a winter bug out. You can’t simply throw on your hiking boots, grab your bag and head for the hills. Your life is going to be extremely difficult as you prepare to hike through rough terrain that will likely be slick with ice or impossible to see with loads of snow on top. The following list of items includes some of the things you need to have at the ready should you have to bug out in a winter situation.hiking-566087_960_720

Wool socks
Wool hat
Ski mask
Gloves—double gloves may be necessary for extreme temps
Handwarmers
Snowshoes—if terrain calls for it
Cross country skis—if you know how and have a long way to go
Sunglasses
Chapstick
Snowsuit—or pants at the very least that will keep your clothes dry
Snowboots
Winter coat that is warm, but not so heavy movement is restricted

What you wear is your best line of defense against cold weather. Dress for the occasion. Don’t assume you will stay warm because you are moving. Yes, you will feel warm, but you cannot leave your skin exposed to cold weather. Frostbite and severe chafing are very possible. Do what you can to cover your skin and get to shelter withing three hours. You cannot travel long distances. Be prepared and your chances of survival are seriously increased.

Holiday Travel Preps

stuckThis is a busy time of year with people driving to see relatives. With gas prices nice and low, it is very affordable to drive and it gives you the freedom to come and go as you please. And, quite frankly, with the threat of terror attacks on the rise, driving sounds even better. Before you toss your suitcases in the car and head out over the mountain and through the woods, get prepared for winter driving.

You should never leave home without some basic preps, but when you are driving in the winter, there are a few additional things you will need to pack around with you. Check out the list below and make sure your family is ready for a long road trip in the middle of winter.

Wool blanket, 2 if you have more than 2 people in the car
Hand warmers
Gloves, hats and warm coats for every member of the family
Cell phone charger for the car
Flares or the reflective orange triangles
Boots for at least one adult in case they need to get out of the car
Gallon of water
Snacks
Books or magazines
Toilet paper
Ice scraper
Kitty litter to use as traction
Sand bags for extra weight
Tow chain or rope

This list is in addition to the basics. If you don’t know what the basics are, they are as follows;snowyroad

Tools i.e. screwdriver, pliers, electrical tape
Flashlight
Spare tire and the equipment to change it
Extra fluids i.e. antifreeze, oil, windshield wiper fluid
Emergency road kit
First aid kit
Jumper cables
Waterproof matches, lighter or magnesium stick to start a fire
Emergency blanket

Before you leave, make sure you tell someone the route you are taking and your expected arrival time. You never know when you may blow a tire, run off the road or get lost. Cell service is never a guarantee. Always be prepared to hunker down in your car until help arrives. Before you head out, give your car a check up and make sure it is road worthy. Don’t pass up a gas station if you know you are going to have to travel 50 miles or more until the next available place for fuel. If you get stuck in traffic or have to sit on the side of the road for a while, you want to be able to run the car to keep the heater on.

Good luck and enjoy your holiday travels!