Opinion Matters

With Gazette Opinion Editor Greg Peck

Greg Peck: Do you carry a “winter survival kit” in your car?

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Greg Peck
Thursday, November 13, 2014

Gov. Scott Walker declared Nov. 10-14 as Winter Awareness Week in Wisconsin. The observance started just as winter dumped more than a foot of snow in many northern counties. Wisconsin Emergency Management and its ReadyWisconsin preparedness program remind people that winter conditions could threaten their safety.

“The No. 1 thing to do: Make sure you have an emergency supply kit in your car—it could save your life,” Brian Satula, Wisconsin Emergency Management administrator, said in a news release.

Yes, he sounds like my father. But I wonder how many people up north got stuck in this week’s snowstorm and wished they had emergency kits in their cars. And I wonder how many motorists in the 2,000 cars stalled in a wintry 20-mile-long snarl on Interstate 90/39 for 12 hours in February 2008 wished they had such kits onboard.

Call me a Boy Scout if you want, but I do have many items in my car that are on ReadyWisconsin’s kit list:

-- A windshield scraper and small broom.

-- A flashlight (though I don’t have extra batteries, as suggested).

-- A first aid kit with pocket knife.

-- A blanket.

-- Jumper cables.

-- Emergency flares.

-- A cellphone adapted to plug into lighter.

-- I’ve rarely had reason to use these. That doesn’t mean this won’t be the winter I’ll need them. Here are other items in ReadyWisconsin’s list:

-- A shovel (I have tossed one in when big snowstorms are expected).

-- A battery-powered radio.

-- Water.

-- Snack food including energy bars, raisins and miniature candy bars.

-- Matches and small candles.

-- Extra hats, socks and mittens (I do keep a ball cap and stocking hat in my car).

-- Necessary medications.

-- A sleeping bag (or blanket).

-- Tow chain or rope.

-- Road salt, sand or cat litter for traction.

-- Fluorescent distress flag and whistle to attract attention.

ReadyWisconsin also offers survival tips. For example, walking in a storm can be very dangerous, and it’s usually best to stay in your car. Run the engine only 10 minutes per hour and make sure the exhaust pipe is free of snow to prevent deadly carbon monoxide from seeping inside. Perhaps even crack a window while running the engine. If you must leave your stranded vehicle, write your name, address, phone number and destination on a piece of paper and stick it inside your windshield for someone to see.

Visit ReadyWisconsin for more kit, 911 and survival tips.

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or [email protected]. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or [email protected]. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

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