Winter will be here in full force in Indiana quite soon.
With daily snow, winds and blizzard conditions at times, it’s important to be prepared. What would you do if you suddenly got caught in a big drift of snow at 11:30 at night during a snowy blizzard? Do you have the 7 things you need in your vehicle during the winter?
Think something like that won’t happen to you? Yeah, so did we. Last year, with our winter lasting so long around here, we got lazy about it. And for someone who likes to be prepared, it’s almost embarrassing to admit.
We went to our friend’s house one night, despite warnings against travel. As we were even driving there, the snow was blowing and roads were getting drifty. Did that stop us? NOPE… we went the 20 miles and had dinner, played games and enjoyed ourselves.
As we were leaving, I noticed that the snow was a “bit” higher on the steps that when we came in. It wasn’t a big deal, we thought…we’d be careful on the roads. I’m originally a South Dakota girl, you’d think I would’ve known better, right? We traveled down one country road, and there was drifting, but it wasn’t terrible. As we turned down the next one, drifting got worse on one side of the road, but our side was fine. As a matter of fact, we had a clear road. Until about 20 feet later when we drove right into a 12″ high drift.
We did the usual, back and forth of the vehicle trying to get unstuck, but it didn’t happen. The wind was blowing some 50 mph, and it was snowing with rapidly falling temperatures. My poor hubby was out there, dressed in his jeans, tshirt, sweatshirt and coat with his leather shoes. Fortunately, he had heavy wool socks on to help keep his feet dry and warm for about all of 30 seconds.
We called our friend to come and help us, to no avail. There was just no digging out the van fast enough.
The drifts had gone from mid-calf deep to waist deep in 30 minutes. We called a tow truck, and it finally arrived after 2 hours of waiting.
Unfortunately, the tow truck also got stuck as it was pulling another vehicle out behind us. We had to wait for a payloader to arrive to plow the way. There was no way we were going home that night. By the time we got back to our friend’s house for the night, it had been over 4 hours since we left. It was an expensive night for us, as the tow truck/payloader cost us $200 to get us unstuck. It could’ve been worse, though. We could have been without these 7 things:
A cell phone and charger
Even if you don’t want to pay for a service with contract, there are so many options for affordable cell phones. It literally saved us, being able to call for help. There were no houses around us, and we really didn’t know where we could’ve walked to to get help. Please, consider having at least a pay as you go phone and spend the extra bit to have a charger in your car.
Plastic grocery/garbage bags
My hubby was able to rip a plastic garbage bag in 1/2 and wrap it around each of his feet, and under his jeans. It helped insulate him a bit longer against the wet snow. I totally recommend you having at least 1 in your glove compartment for that reason.
We were able to move some of the snow with our shovel, but of course, it didn’t move fast enough. Ideally, having a shovel will help you get out from under packed snow. We have a folding shovel like this one (affiliate link) and it folds up neatly and stores under the seats when not in use.
Blankets and Extra Winter Gear
Having a couple extra blankets in the van was nice. Especially when we turned the van off to save gas while we were waiting. The kids cuddled under them together to keep warm. I really recommend you have at least 1 or 2 in your vehicle.
Having an extra hat, scarf, and gloves in the van were life savers when hubby was trying to dig us out. He got to exchange the cold, wet ones for warm, dry ones. Ideally, this would also include an extra pair of snow boots, easily found at thrift stores in July…which I will be looking for more this year.
Full tank of gas
During the winter, you should never let your gas tank be below 1/2 full, for this reason. If we had run it down to less than 1/4 of a tank, there is no way we could’ve kept the vehicle running as long as we did. We would’ve run out of gas long before the tow truck got to us, and it could’ve been a disaster.
Granola bars, individual cheese sticks, and pretzels were awesome to have! No, the kids probably weren’t really hungry, but it DID keep their minds off being cold and worried. Our water bottles were frozen, but putting them on the heat vents thawed them out enough to get a drink every now and then.
An old steel veggie can and candles, with waterproof matches
Yup, having those were a big help for when the van was turned off to save on gas. All you do is have a tealight candle, place it in the center of the can and light it. The heat from the flame will warm up the can and it’ll give off a bit of heat. Not a lot, but enough to help keep you from freezing. See my post here on how to waterproof your matches for the winter!
And above all, if the forecast calls for travel advisories AGAINST you traveling, stay home! It’s not worth putting yourself and family at risk! Or, spending an exorbitant amount of money to get you rescued.
What other things would you recommend keeping in your vehicle during the winter? Be sure to pin this for later!
Heather’s homesteading journey started in 2006, with baby steps: first, she got a few raised beds, some chickens, and rabbits. Over the years, she amassed a wealth of homesteading knowledge, knowledge that you can find in the articles of this blog.