Snowflakes, skiing, cold temperatures and the holidays – winter can be the greatest time of the year…or the worst. For many drivers the winter months can be a time of white-knuckle driving. The long treks home can be frightening due to snow, wind, and blustery conditions. Hundreds of drivers become stranded due to winter weather each year. In fact, according to the Federal Highway Administration, 70 percent of the nation’s roads are located in snowy regions. Due to these statistics it is imperative that you have a winter emergency car kit, especially if you live in one of these snowy parts of the country. A winter emergency car kit serves two important purposes. First, it will help you become unstuck from the snow. Second, it provides essentials if you cannot seem to get unstuck.
Supplies to Get Unstuck – The 5 Necessities
- Snow Shovel: A shovel is crucial to help dig a vehicle out of a snowbank. Even if the shovel can’t help you dig out enough to actually move your vehicle it will at least uncover your car and can help with visibility. It is never safe to leave your car buried in the snow. Carbon monoxide from the exhaust, if the engine is running, can be deadly. In addition, if your vehicle cannot be seen by other drivers or rescue teams you may end up stranded for a longer period of time.
- Ice/Windshield Scraper: Ice scrapers may help you with your ability to keep clear of those snowbanks. Instead of waiting an excruciatingly long time for your windshield to defrost use your windshield scraper to quickly clear away ice and snow from windows in order to have better visibility. Some states even require, by law, that the entire windshield is clear before operating the vehicle. Other states require that the front and back lights are also visible.
- Kitty Litter, Sand or Traction Mat: It’s a common occurrence for tires to spin in the snow. Snow can become packed and slippery which makes traction difficult. This is why many motorists get stranded – they just can’t get their vehicle to move. Even while “rocking” some tires just won’t be able to grip. This is where you have a few options. Many people use sand or kitty litter to help with this problem. By sprinkling the sand or litter around and under your tires you are giving them the ability to find traction. Sand and kitty litter is often a go-to material due to cost. It’s cheap and easy to carry these around in your trunk. The downside to sand or kitty litter is that it is a one-time use. Tractions mats serve the same purpose and can be used more than once.
- Small Tarp: Having a small tarp will save you and your clothing from becoming cold and wet while working on the outside of your vehicle. Kneel or lay on the mat to dig out the tires or scrape ice from under your car.
- Flashlight: Getting stranded doesn’t just happen while the sun in shining. Having a flashlight in your emergency car kit ensures that no matter the time of day you will be able to see. The Driver Defender flashlight is not only a flashlight but a USB power source. It also has 6 other functions to help in an emergency.
Supplies for When You Are Stuck – The 5 Necessities
- Cell Phone Charger: Your cell phone is good for more than just playing mindless games or scrolling social media. In the event of an emergency, like being stranded in the winter, you’ll need your phone to call emergency response vehicles. You’ll also need it to keep in touch with loved ones to let them know where you are.
- Extra Clothes/Winter Weather Gear: Depending on how long you’re stranded you will definitely need additional layers. You never know when or where you might get stuck so it’s important to have gloves, a hat, additional socks, and even a sweatshirt in order to keep you warm. This gear will also help if you are spending a long time attempting to dig yourself out of a snowbank.
- Food & Water: The most important thing to have in case of an emergency is food and water. Again, it is impossible to predict if and when you will get stuck in the snow. It is possible though that you may be there awhile. Your body needs food and water to survive and to be able to have energy. Try to pick foods that are long lasting and won’t need to be replaced quickly. Granola/protein bars, cereals, and dried fruit are a few great options.
- First Aid Kit: Having access to a first aid kit will come in handy for any minor injuries that occur while trying to become unstuck. Adjust for your own specific medical needs but be mindful of how some medicines might be impacted by the cold temperatures.
- Blanket: Similar to having additional clothing you will also want a warm blanket. If you are unable to obtain a military grade blanket the best materials to keep you warm are wool or fleece.