Planning a Winter Survival Kit

Winter is beginning to settle in across the U.S as temperatures continue to drop and cold fronts push in, bringing winter storms and increasingly frigid weather. These storms and below freezing temperatures typically bring many towns and cities to a halt as the winter progresses. School, business, and road closures, power outages, and complications with public transit make winter weather all the more ominous. This winter, make sure you prepare yourself for these conditions with a winter survival kit.

The importance of these kits is difficult to overstate since the combination of below freezing temperatures and harsh snow and ice storms make the season very hazardous for even day to day transit. Getting into the car to drive or being snowed in without power at home can quickly turn into life threatening scenarios. In such situations, having a winter survival kit available can be the difference between comfort and security and life and death–often spanning the spectrum very rapidly. These survival kits should be simple and to the point, keeping essential survival items on hand that fit easily in a pack and a vehicle to be stored for emergencies. Here are some considerations for planning a winter survival kit.

Worst Case Scenario Planning

A basic rule of planning for any event is to center your preparation around the worst possible outcome, or close to it. Planning resources and a response based on the worst case scenario will hopefully mean that in every case but the most dire, you will be adequately or overly prepared. In the winter, worst case scenario planning could come in the form of becoming stranded in your vehicle from a mechanical problem or a severe storm and being forced to remain in your vehicle or seek aid on foot. At home, this could involve being without power, gas, or water for days. Both scenarios require some winter survival essentials.

Survival Kit Essentials

The most immediate threat to personal safety during a winter weather emergency is hypothermia. This sets in quickly in cold temperatures, especially when you are not moving. Preventing the onset of hypothermia is a primary component of winter survival. In your kit, be sure to include clothing items like: thermals, thick socks, waterproof coat, gloves, and hat. In your vehicle make sure to keep: a snow shovel, ice scraper, flashlights, batteries, battery powered lantern, flares, whistle, sleeping bag, tent, a GPS, phone, non-perishable food, and water. This is only a minimum of the items you should carry in your vehicle kit, and you should always have a spare tire in good condition, jumper cables, and a basic tool kit.

Most of these things are meant to enable you to resolve a problem yourself and get out. Self-rescue in an important part of winter survival, and understanding the potential to get yourself to safety is critical to surviving the ordeal. If you are caught in a position where you have to ride out a storm or are otherwise confined, having these provisions in a winter survival kit can save your life until you can get to or receive assistance.