Ask A Trooper

Sgt. Jesse Grabow

By Jesse Grabow

Ask a Trooper

Question: I read your recent article about winter travel safety. I also heard you were a Boy Scout, which would apply to this also. Can you talk more in depth about what a person should have in their vehicle?

Answer: Great topic to expand on. Yes, I serve as the scoutmaster for my sons’ Boy Scout troop. The Boy Scouts’ motto is “Be Prepared.” During the winter months, being prepared becomes even more important. Things happen: crashes, stalled vehicles, being on the wrong side of a jackknifed semi or a whiteout blizzard that lasts for many hours. A phone can call for help, but from over 25 years as a Minnesota State Patrol trooper I can tell you if there are a lot of crashes and roads are bad, help might not reach you quickly. Be prepared and have a plan; doing both could save your life.

• Fuel – Keep your tank as full as possible. When you start nearing half of a tank, fill up. You might think you can easily fill up at the next exit. But what happens if you end up stopped in traffic, unable to turn around or exit the freeway due to a jackknifed semi? There you sit — in subzero temps and almost out of fuel. 

• Clothing – Snow suits, snow pants, extra winter jackets, blankets, sleeping bags, hats, gloves and boots. Keep extra sets in the vehicle and make sure there is enough for all passengers. If your vehicle quits running and help cannot get to you for several hours in extreme cold temperatures, these clothes are essential. 

• Winter driving survival kit – You can purchase one or make your own. Start with a plastic tote or container to put your stuff in. 

Items should include: everything from small candles to two cables, cell phone charger, pencil and paper, whistle, flashlight and batteries, booster cables, shovel, snacks to eat, first aid kit, 30-foot cord/rpe to use as a homing line,basic tools, sand/kitty litter or other grit in a plastic carton and more.