As a driver, you need to be prepared for anything, including an emergency during the height of winter. In addition to getting your car ready for the winter and completing an inspection and all scheduled maintenance, you should keep a well-stocked emergency kit in your vehicle. Some of the items you should have on hand during the winter apply all year, while others are only necessary during the winter.
Supplies to Have All Year
Regardless of the time of year you are driving, your car’s emergency kit should include some basic items including a well-stocked first aid kit, bottles of water, and nonperishable foods that are good at providing energy, such as trail mix or granola bars. These are particularly important in winter when the risk of being stranded increases. You should always have a battery-powered flashlight with extra batteries, blanket, radio, spare tire, and flares. If you can’t carry a spare with you, at least have a tire patch kit of some sort, including something to inflate the tire after it is repaired. It is always a good idea to keep a fire extinguisher with you at all times. Surprisingly, a shovel is useful all year, as well, since you never know when you might need to dig your way out of mud, dirt, or hard-packed ice and snow. You should also always have jumper cables in your car, whether you need them for your own vehicle or as a Good Samaritan.
Critical Supplies for Winter
While you should always have the above items with you, you will want to add an extra blanket or two to your car’s emergency kit, as the temperatures you could be waiting for help in will be close to or below freezing. It is also wise to keep some heavy old clothes, like an old sweatshirt and winter boots, in your trunk. When winter begins approaching, make sure you keep extra windshield fluid, a snowbrush, and an ice scraper in your vehicle, as well. Get a bag of sand or even cat litter to provide traction when necessary on icy roads. Throw some tire chains in your trunk, as well, particularly if you live in areas with harsh winters.
Winter Driving Tips
In addition to keeping a winter emergency kit in your car, you should practice safe driving so you hopefully never have to use anything in the kit. This means keeping your gas tank at least halfway full and driving slowly and carefully, particularly if there are snow and ice on the ground. This is especially important during inclement weather or at night. If you are driving during these conditions having the proper emergency supplies is even more important. While the likelihood of an accident is low, you don’t want to be caught unprepared during freezing winter conditions.