One of the ways you can stay safe during the winter is to buy or prepare a winter car kit to keep in your vehicle in case there is an emergency. Here is a list of things you may want to consider if you make your kit at home. You'll even save money!
- Clothing: If you know you aren't going to be outside much at your destination, it is still a good idea to pack a coat, hats, and gloves in case you were to leave the road. Buy a hat and gloves you can keep in your kit, that way you won't forget about them. Along those same lines, leave a pair of boots in the trunk as well. You may not need to wear them at your destination, but they could come in handy if you have to get out of the vehicle, or if it is very cold out.
- Vehicle Maintenance: This should be done beforehand, and really, should occur throughout the year. Make sure to have good tread life on your tires and that they are properly inflated. This can usually be found on the inside of the driver's door. Also be sure to have good wiper blades and a topped off windshield wiper reservoir, with an extra jug of it in the car. Lastly, change the oil on time. Basic things like this means that your car will perform at its best during the winter months.
No matter how safe a driver you are, or how good, an emergency could still happen. Below is a list of things you should have in your car that could help you in a bad situation. Most items are self explanatory, but some are good ideas that you may not think of.
- Ice scraper
- Jumper cables
- Shovel (for traction as well as to clear the grill and exhaust in case you are trapped in deep snow)
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- Kitty litter (you can dump it in the snow to give your tires more traction to get out)
- Space blanket (just as warm, while only using a fraction of the space a blanket could take up)
- First aid kit
- Candy/Non-perishable foods (sugar keeps the body warm)
- Whistle (signal for help)
- Brightly colored ribbon (tie it to a vehicle antennae to alert emergency personnel someone is there)
- Old can with a candle and matches and a lighter (you can scoop up snow in the can and melt it by the candle. You can also just put the candle inside the can for warmth. If you do that in the car, make sure you have a window just cracked open for some fresh air)
- Hand/foot warmers
- Someway to leave a note on/in the car (in case you leave the vehicle for help and emergency crews arrive at your car when you're not there)
- Fully charged cell phone with charger
- Don't let your gas level get too low
Make sure that if you do plan on traveling, that you let a friend or family member know when you leave. If your car does get stuck, it may take a while for crews to arrive to your car depending on the conditions. Most times staying in the car is best, but if you know the area, and conditions are safe to walk, sometimes that is an option. Not only are crews looking for your car though, you have shelter with it. As long as you have cleared the snow away from the car to prevent exhaust fumes from getting in the cabin, you can turn the car on for a bit to warm up. Just be aware of your gas and battery levels. If your vehicle was badly damaged and won't turn on, at least it can shield you from the elements.
The kit described above is a good balance of preparation and being aware of using up too much trunk space. Again, you can buy these kits, but you most likely have most of what you would need at home. Just remember to drive according to the conditions, and if we say it is really bad, just stay home!