How to Prepare a Winter Driving Survival Kit

Jan 22 2013

It’s winter here in Oregon, and it’s cold. Like, unusually cold for our region. Like, instead of our typical grim, gray rain, it’s more sub-freezing, Dementors-are-coming-to-suck-your-soul kind of cold. All of which got me thinking about how well we’re prepared in case we find ourselves stranded while we’re out.

What if the car breaks down?

What if I’m stuck on the side of the road with my whole chaos of children?

How will we stay warm?

How can we avoid going all Donner Party on each other?

So I took a look around my hip minivan with an eye to survival, and I realized we’re more ready than I thought. I mean, sure, we could stock up on a few things like road flares, a flashlight, water and a move to the Bahamas, but we’ve got some of this stuff nailed.

For example, we’re prepared to stay warm

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with a child’s coat, a child’s Mickey Mouse sweatshirt, a dishtowel, two paper napkins, and, of course

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three left gloves.

And we’re prepared with food.

Foods that are high in carbs like crackers

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and toast.

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Foods that are high in protein like half a Luna bar

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and a meatball.

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Foods that are high in carbs and protein like week-old pizza.

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And foods that are high in French fries and cupcakes, like, um, French fries

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and cupcakes.

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Look. I don’t want to brag too much about our level of preparedness, and I certainly don’t want to bore you, so I’m not including photos of everything I found in my car. All the silverware and bowls. And half-sucked mints and banana peels. And paper plates and dried out markers. And plastic toys and Pokemon cards.

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But I do want to encourage you to be prepared as much as possible. And being prepared starts with attitude and training, friends. Preparation for anything as a family requires buy-in and a sense of team spirit. Every single person in our family contributes to this effort, often anonymously. Even when I say, “Hey! Who left this in the car?” no one hogs the credit or seeks any recognition at all, and, in fact, it’s not uncommon for my kids to try to shine the light on their siblings’ efforts with a kind “he did it” or a sweet “not me!”

Now please don’t worry if this all takes your family some time to learn. More than any of the items listed above, the most important thing to have on hand is consistency. For example, we cleaned our car out just a couple weeks ago, but because we’re committed to consistency, we’ve restocked every single thing and more in that amount of time.

Remember, practice makes perfect. And I believe you can do it.


P.S. If you’re looking for a more, um, thorough (read: real) Winter Driving Survival Kit, check out this one put together by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. I figure Minnesotans know more about being frozen than Oregonians. If you ever need to know about Vitamin D deficiency, though, we’re here for you.

P.P.S. Sorry I didn’t picture the M&M’s I found. I ate them. There’s a reason I’m heading to the gym, folks.


So! What’s in your car right now? For *ahem* winter survival? Spill it. You know, just like that sippy cup of milk. 😉