Friday, December 13, 2013

How to Make a Winter Emergency Kit

How can anyone who is wrong 75% of the time still have a job?” That's the joke going around about Colorado weather forecasters. Coloradans, at least the well-seasoned ones, know that you need to be ready for rapid, unusual changes in weather.

I'm not talking about the mostly predictable summer afternoon thunderstorm, or the to be expected snow at very high altitudes. I'm talking about a normal day when you think you've got it covered because you're just running for take-out and you'll be fine.

My boys learned the hard way that maybe mom's “crazy” Colorado Winter Emergency Kit in the back of her station wagon isn't so crazy after all.

I do understand a bit about how it might not seem legit. It's not organized. I did leave it there all summer out of laziness. But it does contain:

extra winter coats
extra gloves, scarves, hats
unopened water bottles
boots (though with the way the boys feet grew, I need to replace those)
jumper cables
small tool kit
extra batteries
car phone charger
down comforter
fleece blankets
puke container (from a hospital, totally legit)
a pee bucket.

Why the pee bucket? I mean, if you're stranded, go pee in the woods, or between the open doors to your car. You don't need a pee bucket. Yes, you do, and I speak from experience.

I got stuck in a snowstorm on I-25 (THE main highway in CO, it runs N-S through the whole state and beyond) in 1992. This was before I had a cell phone. The how and why isn't part of this story (but may be another blog post, cuz well, the Indians took care of me and all, that's pretty postable). I kept thinking, “Surely they know we're all stuck here and will send plows and tow-trucks and fix this awful mess.” Nope. The hours went by. I really, really had to pee. It was dark, and at that point, I didn't really care who saw me.

Had I left my car though, I would immediately have become soaked and I didn't have a coat (because I never wear one, I'm too hot). So then I'd get back into my car and have to somehow dry off. Or shiver all night. I did NOT have an emergency kit at that time. But you can see how most of the items in my list come from what happened that night and what I wished I'd had.

Which brings me back to the beginning. My boys set out to get take-out, and as they're going out the door, I say, “OYT, don't you want to change out of your shorts? And take a coat?”
No, I'll be fine. I'm just riding in the car. It's not like I need your stupid emergency kit.” Famous last words.

The Engineer and I are starting to get worried because the boys are so late. And won't answer their phones. About an hour later, they stagger in the door. Human popsicles. No winter coats, OYT in his shorts. It's about 20 out.

Come to find out, The Transporter's throttle control sensor had finally called it quits, and they'd walked about ¾ of a mile home.

Mom, I kinda wish we'd had your stuff with us.”



Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Live and learn, little grasshoppers!
We don't get those kinds of storms (and if it's a hurricane, we are holed up in the house for the duration) but we always have water and a first aid kit with us.

JoJo said...

Having an emergency kit makes perfect sense no matter where you live. I had an earthquake kit when I was out west. I try not to drive much in winter here but usually I keep some kitty litter in the car to help with traction too. So glad your boys were OK! And bonus: they learned a valuable life lesson about being prepared and 'it won't happen to me'.

Brian Miller said...

ha. you def may want a pee buckle...we had one as kids...but havent in a while....hmmm...maybe i need to update my kit...we def have blankets and flares and first aid...

L. Diane Wolfe said...

And an umbrella in case it is sleeting. I even used to pack a space blanket. Remember those?

Sarah Allen said...

I grew up in Utah, so I know what you mean about the weather changes :)

Sarah Allen
(From Sarah, With Joy)

Andrew Leon said...

And you'd hope they'd learn their lesson, but I know people that wouldn't from that. I hope your boys do, though.

(I got your email(s) and will be responding soon.)

Jo said...

I've often thought we ought to although we mostly drive around town. I kind of assume my cell phone will take care of emergencies.

Annalisa Crawford said...

Isn't it great when your kids start to figure out that you really do know best??

As for weather forecasters, one poor guy here in the UK is still trying to live down the wrong forecast he made in 1987! And he isn't doing a very good job of it :-)

shelly said...

Unfortunately, kids learn the hard way.

Hugs and chocolate!

Kat_RN said...

Don't you just love it when they admit you are right? Life is much easier if you can learn from other people's mistakes. Unfortunately, most of us are not very good at that when we are young.
Glad they are ok.

M.L. Swift said...

Better to be safe than sorry, I always say. You hear these stories all the time...two just recently. A whole family overturned their car and were missing for days (the dad lit a spare tire and warmed rocks for the car and another stayed in his guitar case!). I think your kit is a great idea. I have a "hurricane emergency kit" for the same thing (except in the house).

Merry Christmas and may you and yours have a safe and Happy New Year!

M.L. Swift, Writer

Jenny said...

Great tip!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Tina .. oh aren't the kids always wiser after the event. I presume they're not in hospital with frostbite?!

Great Emergency Kit .. and I used to have all the works in the car .. as time went on (centuries! - well decades) things changed ... well they might have learnt their lesson ... I sure hope so ...

Cheers and a fun read and don't talk about pee pots ... ?! Hilary