An emergency kit is vital if you ever drive outside the Minneapolis/St. Paul urban area, and it's almost as important if you never venture outside city limits.
The chance of getting trapped in a blizzard seems plausible on county roads. But why do urban drivers need an emergency kit? Imagine a big snowstorm hitting, blocking freeways and trapping drivers. Even in the center of Minneapolis it could take several hours to free all the cars. Having an emergency kit can make the difference between a long, boring but relatively comfortable wait, and potentially fatal hypothermia.
A winter emergency kit should have items to serve four functions: to get help, stay safe, stay warm, and stay occupied.
Once you have your kit, hopefully you'll never need to use it. Here's how to minimize your chances of needing the kit.
- Winterize your car and keep it well maintained.
- Travel with plenty of gas. Always have at least half a tank.
- Check the weather before you travel and avoid traveling when bad weather is forecast.
- Check the road conditions. The Minnesota Department of Transportation provides live traffic and road conditions, accessible by dialing 511, or visiting the 511 website. Calls to 511 are free.
- Tell someone your route, and when you are expected home. Know where you are going and avoid unfamiliar routes.