Before you get into your vehicle to head out, you may want to do a quick check to make sure you have what you need. Keys, a driver’s license, and a phone are a few of the essentials, but there are additional items to keep in your car to protect yourself throughout the chilly winter months. When you’re driving in the snow, the risk of getting in a collision or stuck in a drift goes up, so you need to make sure you have what you need to stay alive while waiting for help if a situation does occur.
Emergency Kit Must-Haves
When packing your car, make sure to include these items in your emergency kit:
Ice Scraper and Shovel
Ice and snow are two of the common culprits for winter driving mishaps. Poor visibility due to iced-over windows is especially dangerous, so keep an ice scraper in your vehicle so you can always remove the frozen layer before you head out on the road. A scraper with a long handle makes it easier to reach across wide windows, such as the windshield and rear window.
A shovel is another emergency kit must-have, as it can save the day if you get stuck in a pile of snow or puddle of mud. You can use the shovel to dig out from around a spinning tire or shovel dirt or snow into the puddle to improve the tire’s traction. A full-size shovel might take up too much space, so look for a folding or compact shovel that offers the same uses without filling up your entire trunk.
Portable Phone Charger
Although a car charger for your phone can be useful, it won’t help much if your car won’t start. You’ll need your phone to call for help, so make sure to keep a portable charger that doesn’t require its own power source to operate. Also known as a power bank, a portable charger can charge your device with its own battery pack, so it’s a worthwhile addition to your emergency kit. Don’t forget to recharge it after you use it, so the charger is always ready in the event of an emergency.
Flashlight and Reflective Triangle
If you get stuck on the side of the road at night, you’ll need a way to see, so keep a flashlight in your car. You can use it to look under the hood in the dark or illuminate your path if you have to walk to get assistance.
A flashlight can also be used to signal to passing vehicles that you need help, although it’s not always as visible as a hazard triangle. If you have space for both, keep a reflective triangle and a flashlight in your emergency kit. Be sure to check the batteries in the flashlight routinely or keep an extra set in the car.
Water and Non-Perishable Snacks
If you end up getting stranded or stuck on the side of the road, it could be a while before help arrives. In a major blizzard, emergency vehicles may have trouble getting to you to provide assistance, so you could be waiting hours or even days. Although that’s the worst-case scenario, it’s best to prepare for the worst. Keep bottles of water and non-perishable snacks in the car for such a situation. Even if you’re only waiting for an hour, the time might seem to pass more quickly if you have a snack and a drink.
Dealing with an injury on top of an emergency with your vehicle is especially stressful, so be prepared with a basic first-aid kit that you can use to administer care if needed. Some of the key items to include in a first-aid kit are antibiotic ointment, bandages in multiple sizes, gauze, and adhesive tape. You may also want to keep a supply of medications, such as pain relievers and prescriptions that you take every day.
Blankets and Warm Clothing
Getting stuck somewhere without the right apparel for the weather conditions could be dangerous. Keep thick blankets and warm clothing in your trunk that you can put on if you have to walk through the snow to get help or stand outdoors to dig out your tires. Include warm socks, gloves, and a hat in your emergency stash of clothing.
If your battery dies, you may be able to get a jump from a helpful passerby. Keep jumper cables in your trunk to make sure you’re always ready to get (or give) a battery jump.
Bag of Sand
If you frequently drive on slick and snowy roads, keeping a bag of sand or kitty litter in your trunk could help you get out of a worrisome situation. Your tires need traction, but a pile of snow can prevent the rubber from gripping the road. If you get stuck in a snowbank, pouring some sand or kitty litter around the tires can create traction and allow the car to start moving once again.
Preparing Your Vehicle for the Cold Weather
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In addition to keeping your car stocked with items that could help keep you alive and comfortable in an emergency, you can also take steps to ensure that the vehicle is equipped for winter driving. Check the tread of your tires at the start of each winter and replace tires that no longer have sufficient tread to provide good traction. Pop the hood about once every week or two and check the oil and antifreeze levels. You may also want to have your battery tested, as cold temperatures can make it difficult for a struggling battery to start.
By preparing your vehicle for the unexpected during the winter months, you can protect yourself and those in the car with you if a situation does arise. It’s also smart to have your vehicle checked out at least once a year, and the start of the winter season is a great time to get a tune-up. The service technicians at Huffines Chevrolet Lewisville can perform an inspection of your Chevrolet model and make sure it’s ready for wintertime driving. Whether you’re taking a road trip or just driving to and from work, you can feel more prepared.