Survival has been around almost as long as human beings have been on the earth. For thousands of years, we were pretty bad at staying alive. We ate twigs and berries. Our fires were too small to stare into and think about stuff. Our tools were basically regular rocks that happened to be pointier than other rocks. Our species was on the verge of total disaster.
But suddenly, as if overnight, we grew tired of dying from things like lions and the common cold, so we invented guns and medicine. We realized we didn’t need to walk everywhere, so we invented wheels and put them under metal boxes, and we called the boxes cars. In olden times, people needed friends just to survive, so we invented Mark Zuckerberg, who invented Facebook, which saved us from the time-consuming effort of making and sustaining real friendships. We liked it.
Since the past, mankind has even settled in Northern Canada, which goes to show how far people will take things once they know how to survive. A few surviving records even show how we survived without power steering, but how this was possible remains a mystery to Millennials.
Despite how good we have become at surviving, many of us still experience an event called winter.* Winter brings many challenges to survival, including snow, cold weather, zombie armies and interestingly enough, more house fires. You need the proper tools at hand if you want to live through these things. Lucky for you, BendPak has put together the ultimate winter survival guide to get you through anything.
*Reference page included for residents of Texas, Southern California, Florida and Hawaii. Also see: snow.
Get your tires ready for snow
Some states limit the use of winter tire chains. There’s something about steel on concrete and asphalt multiplied by a hundred thousand cars that just doesn’t “mix.” (And yes, we think that was a pretty “concrete” joke.) Tire chains just might come in handy, especially if you’re being chased by an axe-wielding maniac through a blizzard and need a quick getaway through a snow-blocked mountain pass… but that might just be The Shining. Anyway, if you live in snowy, or remote areas, make sure your tire chain situation is appropriately covered.
Jumper cables locked and loaded
Your backseat or trunk should always have a pair of jumper cables. If you lent yours to a buddy this spring, now is a good time to ask for them back. It’s one of those items everyone seems to forget about until after-the-fact. Having them increases the odds you won’t have to wait very long on the side of the road for a jump. Plus, if one single person happens to rescue another single person simply by being prepared, and the rescuer says something original like, “Hey, guess you owe me a coffee,” well, that’s a great story to tell your grandkids. They’ll love hearing you tell it too many times.
Check that battery rust and grime. Clear it off. Roadside emergencies won’t be so bad if you have a working battery (i.e., heat). Battery cleanings are often complimentary at service stations when you order a tune-up or get other work done. If you own a multimeter, in addition to cleaning, you can check for yourself that your battery voltage is between 12.4 and 12.7 volts.
Don’t get bit. Aim for the head. Close range weaponry preferred for maximum effect. Trust no one.
Candles and other fire hazards
According to Allstate Insurance™, the holly, jolly holiday season is a not-so-jolly house-on-fire for an average of 67,500 homeowners. That’s a 15% seasonal increase compared to the rest of the year. Why? Because for some reason, people forget about surviving this time of year and do foolish things. For one, they light millions of scented candles and put up in their homes these big, flammable trees, and all of this has the potential to spell disaster. It seems like common sense to keep candles away from curtains, drapes, pine needles and carpet, but accidents always find a way to happen. If you’re using candles in your home, treat each little flame as if it were an open, roaring fire: clear the area of flammables and make sure it’s clear of walkways, just in case someone trips and falls near it. Additionally, people consume more alcohol in the winter (probably sad they don’t live in Southern California), which historically isn’t good for survival, either.
Bad choices and distractions
Don’t drink and drive, and try to stay off the road late at night, if at all possible, especially during the holidays. For many households, winter means more distractions, less attentive behaviors, etc. In general, we all just need to be a little more careful. Also, never light an open candle in your car. December 25th is not the Fourth of July; midnight on New Year’s Eve is not a fireworks parade.
People get robbed more frequently
Robberies/break-ins spike 7% during the holidays. After all, the kids aren’t the only ones trying to guess what’s wrapped under the tree, especially when the tree—and everything beneath it—is in plain view of a large, street-facing window. Keep your presents out of sight or else close the blinds. Be especially careful to lock every door this time of year, especially at night. If you can’t pull your car indoors, two things need to happen. One, don’t leave anything valuable in your car. Two, if there is something in there that you can’t or won’t remove, keep it out of sight. Purses and wallets go without saying, but bags of any kind should be hidden or removed. Sunglasses, your GPS device, etc. should be kept out of sight.
Snow brush and ice scraper
The dual-purpose winter car tool is virtually essential for winter living, not just emergencies. They’re cheap, effective and will grant you three wishes to make you rich and famous beyond your wildest dreams.
Survival kit items
The best way to survive an emergency is to have something on hand that literally has the word “survival” in the name. Depending on where you live, some of these items may be mandatory winter accessories, not necessarily reserved for emergencies. In any case, a winter roadside survival kit will get you through most emergency situations with all nine of your remaining toes intact. Survival kits are actually pretty easy to make and should include the following:
Take those old winter coats, hats and gloves that are a little beat up, covered in a permanent layer of dried winter snot or don’t fit perfectly anymore and store them in the trunk, enough for several passengers. Add blankets and/or sleeping bags, depending on how cold it tends to get around you.
As it turns out, those thin, shiny “space blankets” aren’t what they’re sometimes cracked up to be. They are essentially heat reflectors, and the wind and rain blow right through them. If you’re stuck in your car in an overnight emergency situation, this blanket type might work, as long as it keeps dry and close to your skin. If you start to sweat, however, the blanket will reflect your cooled body temperature back at you, making it less effective, possibly useless. Arguably, the best blanket item you can spring for is the so-called U.S. military “woobie,” or dual-purpose poncho liner and emergency blanket. Woobies melt the hearts and minds of the most tested and experienced soldiers. Why? Because anything this perfect is worth melting for. They’re waterproof, windproof, comfortable and fully insulated
Flashlight and extra batteries
Some form of battery-powered light is ideal. This could be an electric lantern, flashlight, etc. Extra batteries should be considered mandatory.
This is on the fancy-extreme side of the survival kit, but wouldn’t it be great to have if you rolled your SUV down a hill, broke your leg and needed some way to signal for help? Yes, that’s unlikely to happen. In general, flares aren’t the most necessary emergency item, but if you’re in a remote area without a lot of human contact or traffic, you might think twice before going without one.
Hopefully, it never comes to the fire-building stage of your survival adventure, as this means things have gotten pretty dicey. Still, a little flame-based warmth can be the difference between life and death. If you’re really fancy, you can pull some of the dryer lint from your home dryer, store it in a plastic baggie, and with a few matches or a lighter, you now you have the best fire-starting kit in town. If you’re stranded somewhere remote, you can actually use small fires to heat rocks (like in a sauna).
Food and water
Pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty obvious. Don’t store fruit and vegetables in your car, unless they’re of the dried or dehydrated variety. High-energy foods like trail mix and protein bars are your best bets. As lovers say, “Honey, bring the chocolate.” You can never have enough water bottles, either. Ever.
You can buy one ready-made or put it together yourself. The American Red Cross has its own guidelines for a good first aid kit, and for $250.00, you can purchase the whole shebang: a full emergency kit with first aid, food, water, first aid, blankets, light, etc.
TL;DR: Prepare for the cold this winter by adhering to a few common-sense survival tips. Make sure you have tire chains, if necessary, and get your car trunk stocked with blankets, flashlights, batteries, first aid kits, food, water, etc. Furthermore, lock your doors to protect your home from robberies, and be wary of open flames in the household this holiday season.