Winter driving can be a pain in the backside. In recent years, many areas of the country have been hit with some heavy snow and ice storms. sometimes unexpectedly. Stay a little safer when you hit the road by preparing yourself, your vehicle and a winter vehicle emergency kit. Don’t leave home unprepared – stay safe!
Winter Vehicle Maintenance Checklist
- Take care of any necessary repairs before you get in the middle of a snowstorm. This may sound obvious, but I’ve known people who have driven around with emergency lights lit up on their dash who ignored them until the car stopped running completely.
- Make sure your tires are in good condition, properly inflated and appropriately rotated so you have traction when you need it. If you use winter chains, make sure they are ready as well.
- Keep your gas tank full! Grandpa Neverman (my husband’s grandfather) was a stickler about always keeping the gas tank above half full. We’ve had some pretty serious snow storms in recent years where folks were trapped on the road in their cars for hours. It’s a lot safer to be stranded in a car with heat than without. Also, traveling may take much longer than anticipated because of road conditions or detours.
- Check out weather conditions in the area where you intend to travel. Between the news, the internet and cell phones, there’s little reason to not know if you’re getting snow, ice, wind or anything else that will be trouble.
- Get a cellphone, even if it’s only for emergency use. Get a car charger or emergency charger for your cellphone. If your battery is dead, it’s pretty hard to call for help.
Winter Vehicle Emergency Kit Items
Blanket – wool is best, as it still warms even when wet
Hats – your head looses heat fast, and many people don’t wear hats out and about anymore
Gloves – mittens or oversized gloves can go over your existing gloves for extra warmth
Wool Socks – large sized, so they can go over existing socks
Scarves – You’ll be glad to have them if you end up walking
Boots – if they’re not on your feet, they’d better be in the vehicle
Snacks – (durable ones) such as granola bars, jerky or dried fruit
Water – (make sure you empty a little out of the tops of bottles in case they freeze)
Flashlight (with batteries), preferably waterproof
First Aid Kit – I found one I liked from EasyCare. It has significantly better quality items than any kits I’ve seen in this price range.
Hand Warmers – these can be used to warm more than hands
Candle in a metal container with waterproof matches and/ or Sterno – you can use this for heat or melting snow for water
Ice Scraper/snowbrush – this one is extendable, very handy
Jumper Cables – cold decreases battery life
Road Flares -make it easier for someone to find you if things are really bad
Empty Gas Can – in case you run out
Car shovel – I found these sweet little telescoping shovels from Suncast that are made in the USA. I got one last winter and liked it so much I got another this winter so we have one in both vehicles, plus one extra for the boys to use at home.
You may also want to include a bright colored safety vest, to make yourself more visible.
Our old car shovel was made of plastic, and broke the first time I tried to use it with heavy snow. Last winter I used one of these to help dig out someone in a parking lot who thought it was a good idea to park in a snowbank. (Christmas crazy shopping time and the lot was packed.) Heavy, hard packed snow, and the shovel was just fine and did the job. The boys like them for digging snow tunnels because of the short handles and their toughness.
You could just buy a pre-packed roadside emergency kit, but most of them are pretty skimpy, or just have car related items. This one on Amazon looks to be better than most, but doesn’t include people-care items.
I packed up my husband’s car kit in an old military backpack I purchased at FleetFarm – inexpensive and durable.
I packed up the one for our van in another backpack we had at home. I keep the shovel and scraper separate from the rest of the pack, and food items separate from combustibles. If you pack nothing else, you should have hats and blankets enough for all regular passengers and a good ice scraper. The snow shovel and jumper cables are probably next on my list.
I friend of mine just let me know about another consideration – emergency phone numbers.
As an EMT, I was trained to look at victims cell phones (if they were unconscious) and I would look in their contacts list for a number listed as “ICE”. Ice stands for “In Case of Emergency”. Everyone should have a number for US to contact in case of an accident or medical emergency.
Did I miss anything? Let me know. If you found this post useful, pass it along.
Stay warm and safe this winter.