Thursday, December 25, 2008

Get Home Bag, Winter Version

I will be the first to admit I am not prepared for this winter weather, I have already been bit on the ass with the frozen pipes but I got a real reminder tonight on my way home from some relatives that live 35 miles away after doing the Christmas thing.

If you do not have a Get Home Bag, get one together now, I am dead serious.
I first learned of these on the internet some time ago and kind of scoffed at first and then thought about it for a while and then got my head out of my ass and put one together and threw it in the truck.

Actually, in the interest of full disclosure, I pared down my Bug Out bag and threw it in the truck.

I am just as lazy as the next guy and figured I had it covered.


Way wrong.

It has been crazy around here with the weather. Snow, freezing rain, ice, rain, more snow, wind, more snow, ice, you get the picture.
Let's just say all the modern records have been broken.

You could not find a set of tire chains to fit your car to save your life.

I tried.
My boy has been stuck at his friends house for six days.
He is OK, they finally got out today, but I called and called around to find some cable chains or anything I could get my hands on to get the kid mobile again. It is not like he has some odd ball tire size, I gave him an old Ford Ranger a while back and it has standard 14 inch tires on it, not happening with the chain thing.
Anyway, I have been out running around all over the countryside for Christmas. My folks, my kids, my Grandmothers, and the Evil White Stuff just keeps coming out of the sky.

That Get Home Bag?, yeah, I have been cussing that thing for days, I put it on the front seat of my truck and it has been in the way ever since.
I grab it and throw it on the floor and then I need to put some presents in the cab so I grab it and throw it on the seat and then I grab it again and push it towards the passenger door so I can shift the truck and you kind of see that this is a problem. I would throw it in the back but it is full of tool boxes, a spare tire and all manner of miscellanious crap.

On my way home tonight, right in the middle between civilization and a four mile walk to the next town, one of the heavy duty tire chains let go on my truck. WhamWhamWhamWham, shit.
Of course the side of the road was piled four feet high with snow from the snow plows.
My truck is so old it does not have emergency flashers and for once in a great while, I actually had nice clothes on, of course it was as dark as the inside of a derby hat at midnight to boot.

So, there I am, broke down at night in freezing weather, in a baaaaaad place .
I got my flashlight out and turned on my turn signal to let the idiots know to get in the other lane and out I go to unhook the chain and check for damage.

Actually, I didn't care about body damage, it's an old truck. So I unhook the outside of the chain and go to unhook the inside, no go, no slack.

I get in and pull forward a bit and get back out, still no go, it is under the tire.
One more time I pull forward. This time when I get out, the chain is clear inside the tire and wrapped around the axle and...

This is where my mind flashed onto the Get Home Bag, the tire chain was not only wrapped around the axle, it was dragging on the ground and hooked to the metal brake line.

If not for the Grace of God, one more foot and it would have ripped that brake line out and there I would have sit, in the freezing ass cold weather, waiting, with idiots going by at sixty miles an hour.

That Get Home Bag suddenly had a very real value, exactly what was in it?

A couple of cans of food, two multi purpose Swiss Army knives, a tiny fold up shovel, a Filet knife, small candles, Dry socks, a wool sweater and a wrist rocket sling shot. A small pocket survival kit with fishing gear, waterproof matches, etc, etc.

One wind up flashlight, a pint of Vodka , a basic First Aid kit and some other unremarkable items that need to be replaced..

Not exactly real inspiring.

I have a couple of blankets behind the seat but I think you see my point.
Just how effective would any of this be sitting next to a snowbank on the side of a freeway in the dark when the temperature is 31 degrees?

I am not going to drag this out, I just wanted to bring this to your attention without you having to get on your knees in freezing weather and realize you are not going anywhere for quite a while.

There are many, many recommendations on Survival Sites on what to have on hand for roadside emergencies, I do believe I am going to revisit my Get Home Bag, tomorrow.

One thing I am going to make sure and get are some reflective triangles and some road flares.
I had the shit scared out of me twice by idiots not paying attention and having to do evasive measures to get into another lane at the last second because they were not paying attention.


  1. glad you made it home big guy - and i would be interesting in what a get home bag would be up here. down in ca, we had quake bags, basically food, water, change of clothing, kinda thing.

  2. Anonymous12:41 AM

    Hi--I hope you are safe and well now. I saw over at fdl that you won an award for your blog--congratulations on that!

    I'm way ready for the snow to melt, which supposedly will start tomorrow.

  3. shit scared out of me twice by idiots not paying attention

    That's being charitable. What are the odds that both were talking or texting on their phone while obliviously hurtling toward catastrophe?

    Here, in civilization, the weather IQ is inversely proportional to the number of garage doors on the place called "home". Zero-1? Survival skills are finely honed.
    4 or more? Meat popsicles.

    I've been slack-jaw incredulous encountering a gaggle of ex-burb celebrants piling out of their faux-winter vehicle (4wd option skipped. How it looks it MUCH more vital) without hats, gloves or even coats. Why bother? The get in the car inside their heated garage, drive to their destination and go inside.

    What could possibly happen during the drive that would require them getting out of the car? Besides, they all have their cellphones.

    At what point do we let Darwin take charge?

  4. Life has a way of "showing us the light"..... Glad you were o.k. I'd like to have a get home bag in my Jeep, but it's a ragtop and I worry about theft. Besides, my "commute" is only 2 miles.....

  5. All it takes sometime is to realize that whatever steps we take may come in handy at any time, is that one little incident.

    A good wake up call for all of us...thanks for sharing.

  6. I like the pint of vodka. Should add that when I eventually remake mine.