You keep your home stocked with supplies to use in case of emergency. (Right?)
What about your car?
During winter, extreme weather and road conditions can lead to all kinds of trouble when you’re traveling — crashes, getting stuck, getting lost. And cold temperatures make those situations even more dangerous than usual.
So keep a stockpile of emergency items in your car, just like your house. In the best-case scenarios, you’ll never have to use them, or they’ll just help keep you comfortable for an hour or so while you wait for a tow truck. But if you’re ever caught in a truly sticky situation, you might need them to do something more — like keep you alive.
The folks at Wisconsin’s Emergency Management agency are quite familiar with the perils of winter travel, as you can imagine. So don’t just take our word for it — here are some of the things they recommend you keep in your car to help keep you safe should you run into trouble on the roads in the snow and ice.
- A shovel, tire chains, tow rope and sand or cat litter: All of these can help you get your car unstuck.
- A windshield scraper: Preferably one with a brush attached.
- Blankets, sleeping bags and extra clothing: Staying warm is crucial while you wait for help — especially if you don’t know how long you’ll be waiting.
- Bottled water and snack food, such as energy bars, peanut butter and raisins: If it could be hours before you get moving again, you’ll need to stay hydrated and nourished.
- A first-aid kit: Keep one in your car no matter what time of year.
- A battery-powered radio: So you can get weather updates, information on emergency response efforts, etc. – and conserve your car’s battery.
- Emergency flares, reflectors and a battery-powered flashlight: All of these will help you attract attention — and help other vehicles avoid you.
- Matches and candles: Even a small heat source can be an effective one.
Your kit doesn’t have to be limited to the list above, of course. Feel free to add items that suit your needs. But most important, keep the kit in your car at all times — and then keep these additional safety tips in mind:
- Keep your vehicle well maintained (and gassed up).
- Create a trip plan and share it with friends of family.
- Stay in your car if you get stuck. Walking to find help is an easy way to get lost and separate from others in your party.
- To reduce battery drain, only use your emergency flashers if you hear vehicles approaching. You can keep your dome light on to remain visible.
Remember, even the best drivers can end up in a bad situation when the weather gets bad. It doesn’t take much time or money to prepare an emergency kit — but the potential cost of not having one is enormous.
Top image by Flickr user orion.