FARGO — Before you go over the river and through the woods to Grandmother's house, make sure you pack for the trip. Or rather, pack for the unexpected things that could happen on the way.
As the temperatures continue to drop, snow blows and winter travel can become dangerous, experts urge drivers to take precautions, not just behind the wheel, but even before getting in the car.
If you haven't already, the time has come to check and pack your winter survival kit.
If you don't know the drill, the idea is pretty simple — load a container with the essentials you would need if you get caught in your vehicle for a number of hours.
There haven't been a lot of advancements in the world of winter survival kits. The essentials remain:
• Small shovel and window scraper
• Gloves, hats and blankets
• Flashlights with fresh batteries and warning flares or triangles
• Shop rags or paper towels
• Drinking water and nonperishable snack bars
• A source of heat, such as a multiple wick candle
• Warm clothes and winter boots
• Jumper cables
• A rope
• Something to read or an activity book to stay busy
• Sand, cat litter or traction mats
One newer item authorities urge travelers to bring is a phone charger.
Sgt. Jesse R. Grabow of the Minnesota State Patrol says that even if you leave home with a fully juiced phone, if you find yourself in trouble and calling to get help, your battery will drain if you don't keep it charged.
A trooper for 19 years, he says sleeping bags or warm blankets are the most important thing people neglect to pack.
"I see so many people underprepared, underdressed for the weather. They rationalize, 'Oh, it's just a quick trip to Fargo-Moorhead,' but I see a lot of people stranded and not have the proper warm clothing."
Lt. Michael Roark of the North Dakota Highway Patrol says warm layers is one thing he's sure to keep in all of his cars.
"I make sure there's a blanket, heavy duty gloves, hat and even coveralls in my vehicle," he says.
He adds that jumper cables are another thing people often overlook.
Grabow says to remember you're not just packing to keep yourself safe and warm, but also everyone in the car. He recalls a family that got stranded on a rural road and it took hours for emergency crews to reach them.
"You may have to adjust accordingly depending on the size of the group you're traveling with," Grabow says.