It's always great when readers of Living Ready‘s magazine and newsletter write in with questions. If the staff can't answer them, we usually know someone else with the right know-how. But this one has us stumped. Can you solve this riddle of cold weather car survival kits?
Jeff W. lives near Chicago, where the winters can get brutally cold. The summers can get just as hot. This makes it tough to balance the items in his car survival kit, or “go bag” as he calls it.
With the winter approaching, he wrote in with this question. It's a really good one.
When talking about go bags, most people think of being fully prepared for 72 hours or more. Up here north of Chicago, if I leave my bags in the car for a long shopping stop everything will freeze solid in the winter, and the inside of the vehicle will get north of 140 degrees in the summer.
Anything in a pressurized can, such as Fix-a-Flat, would not only freeze, but you run a real risk of it exploding along with your other supplies. Any cans
of food, even solids like candles, can break to pieces at the slightest good bump.
In the summer, you have chances of your food spoiling or melting, fire starters possibility causing a fire, not to mention ammo and other flammables causing a fire.
Plus, all these huge swings in temperatures have to even affect items like tents, freeze-dried food, and other equipment shortening their life span also.
I have several go bags, but I really can't see a safe way to carry them on a regular basis in the above conditions in my vehicles. I guess you could always only carry the items that travel safely under the above conditions but that could leave you very short on supplies when you really need them.
I'm sorry but I can't figure an easy way around this issue.
Here was my suggestion:
You need two bags. One goes in the cab with you. The other one goes in the trunk.
The items that need to stay warm in the winter or cool in the summer (like a can of Fix-a-Flat) go in the bag in the front. That air will be conditioned to be cooler or warmer depending on the season. Even if you don't have AC, body heat or rolled down windows can help a lot.
The bag in the trunk is for things that need to stay out of the sun during the summer, aren't as sensitive to temperatures in the winter or just should stay in the trunk.
What about you? Have any suggestions? This riddle is the challenging reality everyone with car survival kits in a cold state (and warm states sometimes) faces with each extreme temperature swing.
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Every Spring and Fall I take my GHB (Get Home Bag) out of my trunk and replace anything which has a shelf life. I also inspect the rest, just to check.