In case you missed it, some 50 miles of I-95 in Virginia was/is shut down due to snow.  People have been stuck in their cars since yesterday.

It’s winter out there.

Do you have blankets or a sleeping bag in your car?

Maybe a couple of chemical warmers so you don’t have to run your car for hours?

A shovel to dig yourself out of snow?

A flashlight (or several)?

Or are you commuting to work not realizing that your normal drive might take nearly a day because of weather and shitty government disaster response?

You may have your bug-out bag at home, you may have pockets full of EDC, but are you prepared if your car is stuck?

Keep that in mind.


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By J. Kb

21 thoughts on “Always be prepared everywhere”
  1. Several emergency candles are very helpful also. they produce more heat then you would think in an enclosed area. Not that it will keep your vehicle 70 degrees but it will make a difference. Be cautious with the placement while ignited.

    1. Candles? In a closed car? CO alert.

      As for “closed due to snow” — what snow? There’s no snow on that road. I supposed it must be one of those states where two snowflakes constitute a blizzard.

      1. Not so much. The amount of CO and CO2 created by a candle is very very small and cars are not air tight. It is sort of like the people that panic about a propane heater in their house while having a gas water heater and a gas stove.

        You have to be aware but it is not a panic situation.

        The goal is to make sure you are burning with enough O2 that you create CO2 and not CO as a by product.

        1. Check again, your water heater has a vent pipe through your roof, inside gas heaters do not, unless you vent it in some manner.

      2. I don’t think snow is the actual problem. It’s been raining here (not downpours but steady light rain) almost nonstop for several days. The temp the day before the snow was in the ’70’s (at least in southern Virginia). Then it got cold. Quick. All that water turned to ice, especially on overpasses and bridges where there was no warm ground to keep the liquid liquid.

        From there you just have the results of the crash of 6 semis completely blocking the road, all the traffic (which is typically bumper to bumper all the way from Richmond to DC) coming to a stop and ice on the shoulders preventing emergency vehicles from passing.

        Then after sitting there for a while, people that have been running their cars for heat run out of gas. Some people will abandon their vehicles and try to walk to find shelter. Then all those vehicles are blocking the emergency vehicles from getting through and have to be moved. It just snowballs from there.

        People who’ve never driven that road during busy times have no idea what it can be like. Think “LA traffic” but for the entire 100+ miles between Richmond and DC. If someone northbound on 95 near Arlington hits their brakes, traffic comes to a stop in Richmond. Literally. Even the feeder roads and smaller roads that parallel the highway get so backed up if 95 stops, so do they. Then emergency vehicles can’t even get TO the highway, let alone get past the traffic stopped on it.

        I’ve driven that entire road at various times all the way from Florida to Maine (not all at once…the closest to that I’ve ever come is a drive from Key West to Bayonne New Jersey all in one shot that took right at 24 hours) and I think the stretch between Richmond and DC is the worst part that isn’t named “New Jersey Turnpike”.

        At any rate, the worst thing about all the people who were totally unprepared is that this was no surprise. They predicted the storm and the snow and the ice days in advance.

        If you’re out driving around during a storm you knew was coming and are unprepared to be stranded, you’re just an idiot.

        I don’t always have a three day supply of food and water in my vehicle (something I should probably remedy), but if there’s one thing my parents always taught me, even when there isn’t a storm: don’t dress to be inside the car, dress to be outside the car, because you never know when you’re going to need to be and for how long.

        1. >don’t dress to be inside the car, dress to be outside the car

          That’s a great way of putting it, as people seem to forget just how rapidly your vehicle will assume ambient temperatures when the heater is off.

        2. I and my friend once did a high speed run from Baltimore to Richmond. We happen to hit I-95 south of the DC beltway just as Friday traffic got on. I remember his description as “100 miles of 100mph parking lot”

          We weren’t really doing 100MPH but we were zipping along at well over the speed limit because everyone was doing well over the speed limit and all off it was nearly bumper to bumper.

          The DC beltway can be very scary. I was on my bike heading north when I saw traffic come to a stop about a 1/4 mile in front of me. I passed the car on my left that had his lights on and moved in front of him and we all came to a full stop.

          About a minutes after I put my feet down a car comes barreling down the lane I had just exited at full speed to ram into the back of the car that had been in front of me just a few moments before.

          Scary place. During rush hour(s) it is a moving parking lot.

          When I use to commute from north of Baltimore to south of DC I knew that if I wasn’t on the bike by 1600 I wouldn’t get home until 2100. But I could leave at 2000 and still be home at 2100.

  2. I have stay in place items in my car since the blizzard of 1978. And, since that story of the lost family in OR a few years back, I also have a shelter/fire oriented backpack in case I can’t stay in the car.

    Way before cell phones were common, a friend’s grandfather was stuck on route 128 (now I95) about a mile from my house. Had we known, I could have walked there and brought him to shelter. No electricity, but better than in his car.

    Be prepared. The motto of an organization that once had integrity. Mostly.

    1. I had a ham radio setup in my car for a long time, as a communication tool before cellphones. It’s still useful — there are places without cell service, more places (like much of NH) where the alleged cell service is spotty due to hills, and of course cell service goes down in major emergencies. Depending on specifics, ham radio either requires only very basic infrastructure, or none at all.
      On a trip all around North America I had that rig with me; if I were to do such a thing again, even with today’s cell service, I would most likely reinstall a ham radio.

  3. Also if you’re stuck in snow – (Probably not an issue on an Interstate unless it’s snowing HEAVILY) but if you’re in the snow in a ditch; make sure to get out periodically and check to make sure your tailpipe is clear – if it gets clogged with snow Carbon Monoxide can back up into the passenger compartment.

  4. For added fun, take a look at Leftist Twitter and see how many of them are pissed off at Youngkin for his failures to address the crisis.

  5. Remember the rule of threes:
    3 Minutes without Air (medical, make sure they/you are breathing, stop the bleed)
    3 Hours without shelter. This include clothing, gloves, hats, socks, blankets, sleeping bags and so forth.
    3 Days without water.
    3 Weeks without food
    3 Months without hope.

    My parents grew up in Wisconsin. Before I was allowed to have my own car my mother put together the “car kit”. It was a very good sleeping bag, a very good first-aid kit (In a 30cal ammo can no less), and one of mom’s candles. (I once tried to see how long mom’s candle would burn. After two weeks I blew it out. It still had 3/4s of the candle to go.)

    Today my car doesn’t have a go bag. I’m just not in shape to walk more than a few miles so my best bet is to shelter in place.

    The car kit is a blowout kit and a first-aid kit (Two different bags) attached to the back of the driver’s seat. A USGI sleep system with all parts. A bunch of water bottles. The bottles freeze but they will thaw with a little time.

    My EDC bag, which goes with me, contains some food (tetra packs, ready to eat), a quality spork, flashlight, lighter, ferosteel and striker and a few other things. Some of which go “boom”. That bag contains a blowout kit with first aid and SAM splints as well as “everyday meds”

    The trip bag contains a PC-9 and a Glock along with 6 spare mags. There are another 100 rounds in a box. Oh, it also contains a OWB holster for the Glock.

    My coat contains fire starting gear and a small first-aid kit (boo-boo style)

    The only time I’ve “needed” the gear in the EDC was when my daughter was in the ER. We had been there since around 1700 and it was getting toward 2300. Daughter was very hungry and while we had permission for her to eat there was no food for her in the ER. So it came out of the EDC.

    The look on her face when dad brought out food for her was well worth it.

    I’ve used the sleeping bag in my first car when we were going through Wisconsin and got stuck in an ice storm for a few hours.

  6. We live in the mountains.

    Bigger kit at home. Bag in each car. (If I could get Mrs B to stop taking it out of hers to make room for lumber and woodworking stuff. Sigh.) And a bag in a drawer in my office desk at work.

  7. Definitely keep food, water, and blankets in your vehicle at all times, enough to last you 24 hrs. I think most of us here are on board with that, and I’m guessing more than a few people on I-95 just learned that lesson the hard way.

    Another thought – if you are an EV fanboy, this is a worst case scenario for you. Those EV battery packs lose some punch when it gets that cold, and how long will heater run? Living in MI, winter is a normal occurrence here, and I don’t care how much government subsidizes EVs, I won’t buy one, and this is just another good reason not to.

    Related – when these EVs get to be 8-10 years old and the battery packs start to go, you get saddled with a $15-$20K replacement cost. There is will be no used car market for these things, people will just buy new again. Who in their right mind would pay $20-25K for a used vehicle (that originally was north of $50K) and then have to sink almost that much more on a battery pack in a few years??

    1. Yes, the EV batteries lose some punch, but not all that much. And an 80 kWh battery pack will provide heat for quite some time. Especially if you use a trick I remember reading when Tesla first came out with the Roadster: use the electric seat heaters instead of the car heaters.

  8. In MN they have gates on the Freeways and highways to block the major roads if the weather gets bad. Not so much for huge snows, but for blizzards and blowing snow, where you often cannot even see the front (or middle) of your car hood, much less the road. I doubt they will use them tonight, we are only getting 3-5 inches.

    They don’t help if the road grinds to a gridlocked halt before they get it closed off. They sometimes send the NG out in Humvees and other big green machines. They have gear, off road capability, and communications.

    Worst part is this is mountain terrain, and there are not a lot of alternate road options. In flatter country, there are often parallel roads. I was running I-94 NW out of the cities when the signs said the freeway was closed twenty miles from my home. There were three alternate routes I could choose,so I and fifty to a hundred others (slowly) took one of the alternates.

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