Weather Survival

It is December already! Another year is close to ending and winter is here. I have been performing a lot of driver meetings recently and in each meeting I stress the need for all commercial drivers to have a ‘survival kit’.

During these meetings I remind the drivers of the Buffalo snowstorm a few winters ago. Trucks and cars were stranded for more than 30 hours. Five or six years ago on Highway 402 just outside of Sarnia, a similar situation happened. Cars and trucks were stranded due to heavy snowfall and terrible road conditions. In both cases, the highways were closed and vehicles could not move.

And remember that a survival kit is not just for bad weather situations. You could be involved in a crash at any time of the year and be stranded. Or a breakdown in equipment could leave you stranded.  You need to be prepared! So what is it that you need in your survival kit?

For the winter, the first key to survival is a full fuel tank! If you know you are heading into bad weather, don’t let your fuel tanks get below half.  Keep them topped up just in case.  And you’ll need some food. High-energy food is always best. For example; energy bars, cereals or chocolate bars. Water is important to have on hand and is the preferred beverage, but other liquids can be substituted.  Have some extra, dry clothing; if you’re in bad weather and any of your clothing items get wet or torn, you will want to have something clean and dry to put on.  Spare blankets are also important as it can get awfully cold without a source of heat in the sleeper berth of the truck. I recommend carrying hiker’s blankets. These can be purchased at many outdoor stores. A 3’ x 6’ blanket when purchased comes in a package approximately 2” x 4” by half inch deep. They are compact and made out of a metallic material. This could save your life.

I mentioned lack of heat.  A very good source of heat are candles. If you make the area small enough, one candle will keep the temperature above freezing.  You’ll also need to light that candle so you’d better have some matches. In my survival kit I keep my wooden matches in a waterproof container that has the flint on the bottom. This way, no matter what happens, my matches are dry and I have a way to light my candles.  I suggest that you also include a large metal tin can. I personally use a 2 pound coffee tin that I purchased full of coffee from Costco.  I prefer the metal tins because when I place my candle in the tin it performs two functions. The metal tin heats up and helps distribute the warmth and from a safety perspective, if I was to fall asleep and the candle fell over it will not start a fire in the metal tin can.

A battery-powered or hand-crank working flashlight is very useful.   Also think of your prescription medicine.  Always carry more than you need for the length of your trip. If I plan to be away for seven days then I would carry at least ten days of prescription medicine. And remember, if you are crossing the border, all prescription drugs must be in their original containers.

So there you have it. Your survival kit needs to include fuel, food, liquids, dry clothing, blankets, candles, matches, a tin can, a flashlight and prescription medicines.  Some other nice things to have in your survival kit would be a first aid kit, chemical hand and foot warmers and an ice scraper.  Please make it a priority to put together a survival kit and keep it in your truck. I hope you’ll never have to use it.

Stay safe.

Chris Harris
Safety Dawg , Safety Dawg Inc.
@safety_dawg (twitter)

About Chris Harris, Safety Dawg

Chris has been involved in trucking most of his adult life. He drove truck for and worked in various office/management positions for a major truck company. His last position of 5 years in the safety department where he was responsible for the recruiting of Owner Operators and their compliance. He joined a trucking insurance company in 2001 and has been in the insurance side of things until making Safety Dawg a full-time endeavour.