Stock car trunk travel

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We’ve all seen those commercials that ask, “What’s in your wallet?”

The more pressing question is: What’s in your car trunk?

A snowstorm in eastern Virginia stranded hundreds of motorists on a 50-mile stretch of Interstate 95 overnight on Jan. 3, near Fredericksburg.

It’s not a place you would expect to get hit by a foot of snow.

Semi-trucks broke down, slid and jackknifed, adding to the delays. Traffic stopped Jan. 3 and wasn’t completely cleared until 24 hours later. People shivered and worried all night when temperatures fell into the teens.

People often make fun of me for turning my car trunk into a survival center. Some of them have pristine, empty trunks with not so much as a speck of lint.

Mine? It’s like a hardware store pop-up.

I can’t help it. My dad, who survived the Great Depression and World War II as a tail gunner, taught us to be ready for anything. And somehow, all 11 of his kids survived. He tied a rope to our bed frames to escape a fire. He kept fire extinguishers all over the house. He reminded us often: never get below half a tank of gas.

He’s why I have a blazing orange LifeHammer in my console that can shatter a car window and slice off a seat belt for quick escapes.

I’ve got two phone chargers, one for me, one for my guest.

There’s entertainment for delays: a book, crossword puzzles, Sudoku, pencil, pens, a journal, a deck of cards and a harmonica, in case “Piano Man” comes on the radio.

There’s random stuff, like a tape measure, scissors, quarters for parking meters, toothpaste, brush, floss, lip balm and plastic eating utensils.

The picnic blanket with the waterproof bottom sits next to a warm fuzzy blanket. I’ve also got an emergency foil blanket in the glove box.

The tire inflator compressor is ready to fill low tires.

I added extra triangular bandages to the first aid kit. They can turn into tourniquets or slings. There’s also a first aid manual, flashlight, extra batteries and a powerful plug-in light that can light up street addresses.

For messes, I’ve got wipes, tissues, paper towels, TP and trash bags.

Of course, there’s a roll of duct tape. Apollo 13 astronauts used duct tape to patch up the lunar module for the long trip home. I’ve also got road flares, a CALL POLICE sign for the windshield and a road atlas of the United States, if we ever had to hit the road and flee.

A clear plastic $4 shower curtain serves as a cheap tarp. There’s also a rain parka, umbrella, SPF 50, bug spray and a clipboard. My friend, Bill, once told me, if you walk around with a clipboard, people think you’re official and will let you in anywhere.

There’s a rope with a float on the end. You never know when someone might need saved.

The can of peanuts is for protein. I’ve also got jumper cables and the car manual, which I have never read.

I keep an extra set of clothes – socks, undies, jeans, shirt and sneakers. You just never know.

Every winter, I add a snow shovel that folds up, ice scraper, snow brush, gloves, de-icer and windshield wiper fluid.

There’s a yahrzeit candle and matches in an empty metal coffee can. If you light the candle in the can, it can warm you for 24 hours.

A winter scarf, hat and hand warmers, the kind you squeeze, will keep me toasty.

After reading about the backup in Virginia, I learned a few new tips:

• If you’re stuck for a long time, turn off your car. Start it every hour and leave on for 10 minutes to warm the car. Don’t leave your car. It is your shelter. The car protects you from wind chill. Don’t risk getting hit, lost, or falling and getting hurt.

• If needed, go out to clear snow and ice from the tailpipe so the exhaust doesn’t kill you.

• To preserve your phone battery, close the browser and apps.

• You can generate some heat by doing arm circles, neck and shoulder rolls.

So what’s in your trunk? And your wallet?

Besides your AAA card, insurance and medical cards, keep a secret $20 bill inside.

That way, you can thank the person who rescues you.


Connect with Regina Brett on Facebook at ReginaBrettFans. Listen to “Little Detours” with Regina Brett at reginabrett.com or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.