Slice of life

by Meg Heiman

My to-do list has changed over the past few days. Now, at the top are the words “Plan for Emergencies.” <BR><BR>My car broke down recently. I was over 40 miles from home, it was 9 degrees outside and I was ill prepared for being stranded. I was dressed in thin polyester/nylon pants and wearing nylon stockings and black dress shoes that exposed the tops of my feet. Fortunately, I did have on a warm coat, hat and gloves.<BR><BR>It took over three hours from break-down to rescue. I had a lot of time to think about how I could be better prepared for vehicle emergencies in the future and also to contemplate how serious (and uncomfortable - my toes are still cold!) a vehicle break-down in the winter can be. <BR><BR>“You have to think every time you leave ‘Am I going to make it home?’ and ‘If not, what is going to happen to me?’” said Devvie Cersine, an instructor of health/EMT/first responder classes at Vermilion Community College.<BR><BR>Devvie shared with me a list recommended by the American Red Cross of items to include in a vehicle survival kit and added her own items and comments based on experience and expertise. <BR><BR>• A first aid kit is essential. It should include a knife, waterproof matches, a lighter, flashlight and nylon cord (for tying one end to your car and one end to yourself if you must leave your vehicle during a winter whiteout).<BR><BR>• Keep an extra layer of clothing in the back of your vehicle. Include old snow pants, socks, boots, coats, hats, scarves, gloves, etc.<BR><BR>• In addition, keep few old sleeping bags or blankets on hand. Devvie suggests buying foam camping/bedding pads to keep in the vehicles, too. They’re useful for kneeling on when doing vehicle work or wrapping up in to keep insulated from the cold. And they’re cheap - they’re sold for five dollars or so at discount stores.<BR><BR>• People taking medications should bring along one day’s worth of meds in case they’re unable to make it home. <BR><BR>Too many people rely on cell phones these days, Devvie said. The batteries on cell phones may go dead and they’re not always reliable. Another good, timely suggestion is to keep old phone books in your car for quick reference.<BR><BR>Other items on a check list to keep in the back of your vehicle include:<BR><BR>__ Food that is edible when frozen and can be broken into small pieces and eaten. Nuts, candy granola bars and foods high in fats and high in carbs are good. Quick bread makes a good take along because it thaws quickly (especially when placed against your body in small pieces) and it keeps well.<BR><BR>__ Toilet paper and an empty ice cream bucket or water bottle to use to take care of bathroom needs without leaving your car.<BR><BR>__ Water will freeze in your car, so Devvie recommends always carrying water along with you when you leave from home. <BR><BR>__ Flashlight with extra batteries <BR><BR>__ Extra quart of oil <BR><BR>__ Snow shovel <BR><BR>__ Tow chain <BR><BR>__ Sand or kitty litter <BR><BR>__ Jumper cables <BR><BR>__ Ax and folding saw <BR><BR>__ Small plastic tarp or poncho to use for emergency shelter or to keep condensation off <BR><BR>__ Powdered electrolyte drinks <BR><BR>__ Books, magazines, games for kids <BR><BR>__ Token money for volunteers who help <BR><BR>__ Handwarmer/footwarmer packets (Devvie explained that research suggests they don’t really work but that they provide psychological comfort.) <BR><BR>__ Snowmobile flags to mark location in deep snow<BR><BR>__ Plastic dishpans are the perfect size for storing some of these items in because they are small enough to slide right under passenger seats. <BR><BR>For those of you with Christmas shopping yet to do, perhaps a few of the items on this list (and/or AAA membership!) might be appreciated by a friend or loved one.<BR><BR>While I can’t say I’ve ever kept a loaf of quick bread in the back of my van in case of emergency, I can say this recipe for banana nut bread is a favorite. Enjoy - and be safe!<BR><BR>WHOLE WHEAT BANANA NUT BREAD<BR><BR>1 1/4 c whole wheat flour <BR><BR>1 t baking soda <BR><BR>1/2 t salt <BR><BR>1/3 c oil <BR><BR>1/2 c honey <BR><BR>2 eggs, beaten <BR><BR>1 c mashed bananas (3 medium) <BR><BR>1/4 c hot water <BR><BR>1/2 c chopped pecans or other nuts<BR><BR>Combine dry ingredients. Cream oil and honey in a large bowl. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in bananas. Add dry ingredients alternately with hot water, mixing well after each addition. Fold in pecans. Pour into a greased 5-by-9 loaf pan. Bake 325 degrees for 60 minutes. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack and cool completely. Freezes well.<BR><BR>