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Winter Emergency Bag: Save Your Family, Save Yourself

My vehicle is called a “compact crossover SUV”, and what this means is that it’s a 4 cytlinder with 4 wheel drive, and I’m taller than my vehicle. This is wrong. There should be a law that you’re not taller than your vehicle…

Be that as it may, I’ve got it loaded with lock boxes  that contain items for work, as well as stuff a person needs in the winter. Things like shovels, cold weather gear, etc. as well as the “well I’m stranded here, can’t walk out, and maybe I’ll get smucked by a snow plow” type scenario.I live in a small town, but winter is no joke here. There are plenty of places to get snarled up, and help might be hours away.

Invariably, this is also where cell phone strength is at it’s worst. Pretty much every year you’ll cross paths with those hapless souls who have the guts, (or lack of common sense) to head to town, and most of the time they’re in a white car (brilliant).

These people also have a penchant for bald tires, no shovels, Sponge Bob pajama pants, and at least 1 kid also equally misdressed. Great. They could literally die in 2 hours or less, but seem completely oblivious to this eventuality.I can speak from experience that this isn’t fun, and the really annoying part is just how many people will drive by, annoyed at YOU. I’ve actually had to save a few of THESE people, too, as I progressed further towards my destination. Lo and behold, they’re wearing the exact same wardrobe. Unbelievable.

My Dad trained us as kids to get in the dog houses with the dogs in case there was no one home when we returned from school.He even made kid doors that we could open to get in, and close once we were in with the dogs.The dogs seemed to enjoy the company, as mutual warming occurs. The smell’s not the greatest, but there you go. This kind of stuff sticks in your head.

There were plenty of tales of farmers who tied ropes along their route so as to have index points to find the house because visibility was so bad.  Animals still need to be fed, and firewood has to be put in the house, weather notwithstanding.There were also tragic stories of frozen kids under drifts by the doorsteps too, as well as people who didn’t use ropes and froze to death only feet away from buildings.

Maybe my Dad was a specialist in childhood trauma, but it set me on the path of NOT being caught unprepared. If you live in an area that has real winter, check out the vehicles of your coworkers. How many of them are ready if they have to tough things out for awhile? You might be surprised.

It was this train of though that led me to type this out for all of you; Here’s what I have for a car bag to help with say, a nasty car wreck, or the extrication of several oblivious people who decided to throw caution to the wind, only to get helplessly stranded. I’m sure that all of you have similar rigs, but maybe there are things here that you might not have, but need.

The bag proper is straight up Amazon, no name. It has an “Incendiary” tag on it, but if you type in “tactical small bag”, it pops up with several different names. It costs like $20, a few years back. There was a version that was touted as a loaded “first aid kit” at $50, so maybe you could buy this and consider yourself squared away. There are a lot of items in there that I wouldn’t consider as viable, but maybe you do.

The bag is 11 inches tall, 8 inches wide, and 3 inches deep. It has a single shoulder strap with MOLLE on the front and sides. There’s no way I’d consider this bag for serious use in some of my endeavors, but it’s fine in this semi-domesticated role.

The contents are things I consider necessary for my skill level, and perhaps you’ll feel that it has merit. There’s a rear pocket area for where your “concealed pistol” goes, but nope.This would be the side of the bag that rides against the body. This is where I stash a 5.11 reflective vest. Hi-Viz clothing is a great idea when everything is white, dark, and considering that this is a “rescue” mission” I want to be seen. These go for like $40, and I’m sure you could find something far cheaper if need be. My local Goodwill store has these all the time.

There are “D” rings on the top outer facing side, and this is a great place for having rolls of tape.Gorilla Tape, 1 inch wide is great for quick first aid, and feels stronger than medical tape to me, although it could just be perception. (10$ a roll) Also on a “D” ring I’ve mounted a RESQME tool for cutting belts and breaking windows. These are like $7, and if all in your home don’t have these on their key chains, shame on you. I’ve secured it with a cable tie- one yank and I’m ready to use it, and it’s right where I can easily see it to do just that. On the shoulder strap in a pistol mag pouch where I’ve got a multi tool as well as an automatic center punch. This also gets through glass easily, in case the RESQME were to fail. It hasn’t so far, but why push my luck? Tools vary widely in price, but the punch was like 6$

Top outside pouch holds a CAT7 tourniquet ($27), for easy grab, as well as a NEBO mechanic inspection light.It throws 400 lumens, uses normal batteries and works as a conventional light, area light, or flashing red light. I’ve been using these for years, and at 20$, worth every penny. The base is magnetic so I can also use it hands free, and a clip to hook it in my vest for seeing.

Under this pocket is a larger bottom pocket with MOLLE exterior loops. This was a dandy place for shears, Sharpies, a heavy duty folding knife, and a pair of “glow stix”. All of this is around 44$ ish.This is all on the outer face of the bag, so now we’re going inside.

There’s an inner pocket where I stashed 4 space blankets. They are flimsy and noisy as all get out, but they work.($14) They take up very little space, weigh virtually nothing, and if I give them away, I’m out like $3. Who cares? There’s also another CAT7 in there ($27)

In the main empty area of the bag I’ve got a portable folding stretcher rated at 500 pounds with drag handles that measures 28 inches wide, 74 inches long-$28. It’s basically a piece of black tarp, but priceless when it’s called upon. On either side of this are 2 space blanket sleeping bags, 3 feet wide, 7 feet long ($20).

Inside this main compartment is a zip pouch, which is full of ACE Bandages, and self adhesive bandages, and these are great for pressure, with no safety pin required. Trying to pin things wearing gloves, freezing, nervous, bloody etc can be easier said than done. (16$)

Front and back of this center pocket are thin dividers, and in here I’ve got pencil bags (1$) each holding various things, and labeled as to just what’s in each bag. Contents include Hy Fin chest seal, NPA, Size 28, 4×4 bandages, and plenty of gloves.

Consider this, any Good Samaritan who at least stops can help with applying pressure, no real training required for this. Do them a favor, and have gloves available for them, too. This seems only fair. Moving on, we’ve also got 4×4 gauze, z-fold gauze for packing, clotting agent, and more TQ’s. For this, it’s around 90$, all told.There’s still room for bottled water, but water in the winter is tricky, make sure it doesn’t freeze. Also keep an eye on expiration dates for items like clotting agent, and chest seals.

If the On Scene Helper cannot/isn’t willing to apply pressure, get them on the phone, calling for help. Maybe no one has gotten around to it yet, with all the excitement. Wouldn’t that be a peach?

So this is what I’ve got to get things going. I’ve got more sophisticated stuff in a lock box, but these fundamentals help greatly for initial assessment.In a perfect world, the roads are good enough, and signal strength good enough, to get professionals on the way.

A couple more pointers and we’ll wrap this up. The Dollar Store chem sticks aren’t as good as military grade chem stix. In summer heat, they will indeed pop in your bag (trust me on this).If you don’t have military grade, Dollar Store is fine, just put them in a Ziploc for insurance.

Believe it or not, kids love these things, and sometimes something small like this can completely distract them from what’s going on. Rule 1 people, is “keep the patient calm”. I’m not saying I’m doing first aid on kids, merely pointing out that the less things they worry about, the better everyone is going to feel. Chances are high they’ll positively love a space blanket and the stick.That’s why cops carry stuffed animals in their trunks. Think about it.

The cheap chem stix come with a string and a cap. Tape the cap to the stick. Thread the string and pre stage it now, not fumbling around during the actual event. Chem stix have a thousand uses, and they’re cheap. Why not have a dozen in the bag?

If you’re just getting into this type of stuff- every zipper needs to have a string pull on it. I like paracord for this. I like it better with a good knot, and a light tape end to see in low light. Be careful with zippers under stress, especially on cheap stuff. Worst case scenario, destroy the container and remove what you need.

Life means more than a zipper, every time.The pencil bags protect the contents a little bit, while giving me reference to what’s in there in an organized fashion. You need to be efficient with your actions, as life could be riding on your performance.

So my set up comes in around 350$ ish. Maybe you feel this is too high. You could probably buy stuff of dubious nature- that choice is yours to make.Maybe it doesn’t snow where you live, so you don’t feel the need for space sleeping bags. Let me leave you with this- Hypothermai can set in on an injured person quickly, even in 70 degree temperatures.

Until next time, Stay Safe, Train Often.

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