In less than two weeks, winter officially begins. The United States has already been hit by a couple major winter storms. And, more snow and frigid temperatures are certainly on the way. This is especially true for driving jobs that run the Pacific Northwest.
Each winter, trucking companies put drivers in the Pacific Northwest to face dangerous road conditions, leaving Mother Nature to decide the fate of your trip. Even if you’re able to commandeer your truck on a slippery highway, the other vehicles around you might not be able to do the same.
If you’re in an OTR driving position running northwest lanes in states like Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Oregon and Washington State, always be prepared for the worst. This year showed us that I-80 can shut down for four days at a time. In case you get stuck in a winter storm like that, make your experience better by packing your truck with essentials for winter weather emergencies. Drivers with routes in Midwest regions – Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas and Iowa – should heed this warning, too.
As an OTR driver away from home and essential supplies, wouldn’t you rather pack appropriately in case you get stuck in a winter storm? Even if you’re able to pick up some items in a truck stop, you know you’re going to pay at least twice the average cost for the convenience. We put together a list for you of the basics you should have on hand in case you find yourself fighting Mother Nature. A big thanks to some of our drivers for adding their must-haves to the list.
Warm and Comfortable Clothes
Nobody’s going to care what you’re wearing if you’re stuck in a snow drift on the side of the highway. Don’t forget to pack at least a few sets of warm pants, shirts, underwear and sleepwear. Chances are, a laundry machine isn’t going to magically appear when the weather has made driving impossible. Add a coat, gloves and scarf along with some sturdy snow boots to round out your list. Winter comes early and runs late in the Northwest, so don’t let 70-degree weather in Texas fool you.
Portable Heating Equipment
If you’re regularly running a route in an area known for cold weather, your truck is most likely already equipped with APUs and bunk heaters. If not, save room for a space heater. It may take up more room than you’d like. But, you’ll be glad you have it if your bunk heater stops working. Or, if you’re nowhere near a hotel or repair shop. Even an electric heated blanket can provide another level of warmth.
A Few Days’ Worth of Food and Water
Keeping your rig stocked with enough sustenance to get you through a day or two without access to that ever-so-healthful and tasty fast food or truck stop cuisine is essential in the winter. Most drivers have a fridge in their equipment, but you’ll want to stash some non-perishable foods as well. Think granola bars, beef jerky, fruit, nuts or protein bars.
Safety essentials are the last but most important part of this list. Hopefully, you already have reflectors and emergency flares in your cab in case you have to make that dreaded stop on the side of the road. For winter weather, adding a flashlight – with extra batteries – and a first aid kit to the mix is smart. With daylight savings time, drivers are left to do pre- and post-trips checks in the dark. A headlamp will give you direct light and allow you to keep your hands free. Another good idea is bringing along a small folding shovel, some kitty litter or sand for added weight. Maybe even a pair of jumper cables. Sturdy snow boots are definitely an essential. To add functionality to your boots, we highly recommend winter traction devices. They provide some added safety for walking on slippery ice and snow and hopefully keep you from falling.
Assembling the items on this list may seem too time-consuming. However, in the off chance you’re left waiting to get back on the road and wishing for warmer weather, you’ll be glad you’re prepared.
Check out our blog on the four rules for tractor trailer breakdowns and emergencies. It lists even more ways to keep yourself safe and secure no matter what part of the country you’re in.