Being prepared for Winter Travelling – Are you prepared?

Apr 27, 2017 @ 07:54

With yesterday’s road closure of Highway 17 (Wawa to White River) for 13 hours, many people were very upset. It is hard at times for non-locals to understand how it can look fine here, but the weather has made safe travel near impossible only a few kilometres away. As the OPP are questioned by irate travellers at the barricades, Wawa-news is bombarded during highway closures with text and emails wondering when things will get better. My usual response begins with “If I had a crystal ball…” I’m not sure how officers can keep their cool sometimes with the inane questions, as if they could predict what Mother Nature is going to throw at us next.

Environment Canada and other weather services do a pretty good job of warning when weather systems will change and bring storms our way, and the MTO does the same to keep the highways clear – but the responsibility to travel safely always rests with the driver. As the daughter of a bush pilot it was always drilled into our heads two important facts as my father would fly somewhere:

  • file a flight plan (where you are headed, expected time of arrival)
  • be prepared for anything, remember Murphy’s Law “If anything can go wrong, it will!”

As a driver, you make the decisions just like a pilot. Travelling blindly and ill-prepared anywhere could lead you to risk. Weather can change just around the bend in the highway. Late Tuesday afternoon I drove to Dubreuilville with the top down on my convertible VW Beetle with a beautiful 18.5C, but Wednesday morning, I was chipping 5mm of ice off the windshield in -1C.

Do I have an emergency kit in my car? Not yet, I just bought the car – but this afternoon there will be a small bag with all those important goodies in the back seat. And yes, I can hear my dad’s voice in my head chiming, “Stupid, stupid kid. I taught you better than that.”

Public Safety Canada, in cooperation with Transport Canada. offers the following ideas for your emergency car kit, you can add to it things that you think are important. My kit always includes toilet paper, a couple bags of instant oatmeal (in a ziploc bag to stay dry), dried fruit (there are so many choices) and/or jerky, several half-bottles of water (they can freeze). It isn’t a very difficult thing to do, and this way if the road is closed stranding you in say, White River or any of the small communities along Lake Superior, you will be reasonably comfortable for a few hours.

Emergency Car Kit:

  • Food that won’t spoil, such as energy bars
  • Water—plastic bottles that won’t break if the water freezes (replace them every six months)
  • Blanket
  • Extra clothing and shoes or boots
  • First aid kit with seatbelt cutter
  • Small shovel, scraper and snowbrush
  • Candle in a deep can and matches
  • Wind‑up flashlight
  • Whistle—in case you need to attract attention
  • Roadmaps
  • Copy of your emergency plan

Items to keep in your trunk: 

  • Sand, salt or cat litter (non-clumping)
  • Antifreeze and windshield washer fluid
  • Tow rope
  • Jumper cables
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Warning light or road flares