Winter Preparedness

INTRODUCTION

With cold weather upon us and holiday travels, I thought it would be a good time to refresh in our minds cold weather preparedness. I often like to think that our emergency communication events will be in nice sunny weather. However, odds are greater to have an emergency in cold weather than warm weather. With winter storms, our roads become impassible and our electrical infrastructure has greater odds of failing. So we not only need to prepare ourselves and our families for cold weather but also our equipment.

VECHICLE CHECKUP

We first need to look at our vehicles and make sure they are prepared for winter travel. If you are milking the last 2,000 miles off your tire tread you should replace them. Check all your fluids and make sure they are changed according to maintenance or topped off. Check for wear and replace windshield wipers if needed. Cold brings out the weak batteries so replace if needed. Lastly, always maintain at least a ½ tank of gas in your vehicles. This is a good habit year round.

VEHICLE PREPAREDNESS

In an emergency event, your vehicle will become your shelter in place. Regular basic items in your car should contain:

  • Cell Phone Charger
  • First Aid Kit
  • Jumper Cables
  • Flares
  • Water/Snacks
  • Flashlight
  • Blanket
  • Tow Rope
  • Tire flat kit and compressor
  • Repair tools
  • 96 hour kit

In addition to regular supplies in your vehicle you should add the following for the winter months:

  • Tire Chains
  • Extra Coat, Hat, Gloves, blanket for each family member
  • Compact Snow Shovel
  • Ice Scraper/Snow Brush
  • Bag of sand or cat litter.

A good alternative for the sand if you do not have the room is purchasing from a thrift store some used door mats. These work great to gain traction and something nice to kneel or lay down on when putting tire chains on (In worst case scenario you could use your floor mats) If placed in an emergency situation you may have to get inventive to survive. There was a report several years ago where a lost couple used the seat backs in their car as snowshoes.

PERSONAL CLOTHING PREPAREDNESS

We often say to stage your equipment for use, keep the batteries charged and bags packed. But if you have to deploy in cold weather is your clothing staged also? I have taken a large gym bag and equipped it with enough layers of clothing and accessories to survive a night in the mountains in the winter. I was able to build this bag with acquired winter clothing from years past of skiing and winter camps.

Outer Layer

  • Outer Shell Coat
  • Fleece Coat
  • Insulated Snow Pants
  • Crocodiles

Extremities

  • Head, Neck Ear Gator
  • Neck Scarf
  • Light Weight Gloves
  • Medium Weight Gloves
  • Heavy Weight Cloves
  • Insulated Hat
  • Socks: Wool (2), Thin (1)
  • Snow Boots

Gear

  • Snow Shoes
  • Heat Packs
  • Emergency Blanket
  • Fire Starting Kit
  • Hydration Backpack
  • Backpack
  • Canteen w/Carrier
  • Goggles
  • Hunter Orange Vest

Insulating Layer

  • Thermals
  • Fleece Pants
  • Sweater

Mid Layer

  • Flannel Shirt
  • Tec Vest
  • Long Sleeve T-Shirt

EQUIPMENT PREPAREDNESS

You should take a couple extra steps to prepare your equipment for cold weather duty. The two issues you will encounter, is poor battery performance and brittle plastic parts. Protect your equipment as much as possible from dramatic temperature changes; this forms condensation on the electronic parts. Avoid extreme heat exposure from heating devices. A good rule of thumb is when huddled around a heater if you smell burning plastic it’s you. To get some more life out of your batteries, wrap them in a blanket. We typically we set our batteries on the ground, this is where the cold air pools, set them up a bit to prevent this pooling from happening. Equipment get’s brittle in the cold, take extra care to protect your equipment from damage.

SAFETY FIRST

Lastly, be extra vigilant with safety. Mark well any hazards such as cable runs or guy lines. Everything hurts worse in the cold. Keep an eye on electrical connections as they may rest in water. Be cautious with heating equipment and fuel. Follow all best practices on storage, use, and proper ventilation. Be observant with each other and monitor health and well being. The winter cold weather takes common hazards up a notch.

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