Eight-below over the weekend, two-below this morning.
Winter has definitely arrived from a colder temperature standpoint, reminding us all of the need for extra precautionary steps in the event we are caught out in the cold -- literally -- whether its out on foot or stuck in a stranded vehicle.
The first sound practice is one that most of us are already addicted to -- carry a cell phone in the event you need to communicate your position. The other remaining strategies include: letting someone know where you are going and when you expect to arrive; dress according to conditions; and always make sure your vehicle has a full tank of gas.
If you do end up stranded in your vehicle it is always best to stay put and run the engine sparingly, starting with 15 minutes every hour and adjusting after that, if needed. If the cold is extreme, it may be necessary to keep the engine running continuously as it may not restart if the engine is shut off.
It's also important to keep the exhaust pipe clear of snow and never go to sleep with the engine running because of the threat of carbon monoxide - an odorless, colorless, poisonous gas that can be a life threatening problem if your exhaust system is leaking or faulty.
It is also crucial to move all your emergency supplies from the trunk to the inside of the car as soon as possible if you become stranded. Put on warm clothing right away before you get cold. It is easier to stay warm than it is to regain lost warmth. Loosen tight clothing so body heat can circulate. Remove metal jewelry as it can chill you. Check your supplies to see what you have to work with and arrange them in order for their use. This will help you ration them in case you are stranded for a long period of time.
Here's another cold weather camper tip if you are caught in a safe place to sleep: eat a high calorie food snack just before going to sleep to help stimulate your metabolism (heat production). If you awaken due to the cold, eat some more high energy food and add another layer of insulation such as more clothing or a blanket.
As for equipment, always carry tools such as pliers, wrenches, screwdrivers, and a pocket knife. Also include tire chains, booster cables, a tow rope, gas line antifreeze, and a container of sand.
Being prepared for cold and snow emergencies by making sure you have a proper survival kit and by using care and skill in the event you are stranded, can go a long way in ensuring your own and everyone else's safety.