A car-related emergency is stressful in the best of times. It can be even worse if it takes place during the cold winter months. You can do everything possible to prevent an emergency, but there are some things you can’t plan for. That’s why it’s so important to be prepared, especially during the winter.
We’ve put together a list of seven items you should keep in your car in the winter. Having these things in your car can keep you safe in the event of an accident or car breakdown. Keep reading to learn how to be prepared for driving in the winter.
Don't get stranded out in the cold – make your own winter car survival kit filled with winter car essentials. To keep yourself and your loved ones safe, you should know how to prepare your home and your car before a winter storm hits. Always have winter safety and emergency equipment in your car. A basic car kit should contain the following car essentials:
- Food that won't spoil, such as energy bars
- Water—plastic bottles that won't break if the water freezes (replace them every six months)
- Extra clothing and shoes or boots
- First aid kit with seatbelt cutter
- Small shovel, scraper, and snowbrush
- Candle in a deep can and matches
- Wind up flashlight
- Whistle—in case you need to attract attention
- Copy of your emergency plan
Scraping snow and ice off of your car is an unavoidable chore if you plan to leave your property without a pair of snowshoes on your feet. You can't drive your car with a windshield covered in ice. Fortunately, even a stubborn coating of ice is easy to clear with a bit of elbow grease and a great ice scraper.
Which type of ice scraper should you choose?
The type of ice scraper you need depends on where you live and how much snow your region gets. Here are a few things to consider:
- If your region sees limited snowfall, but plenty of cold mornings, then a simple ice scraper is probably all you need.
- For moderate snowfall, a scraper that also features a brush is a good idea, as these devices allow you to remove the top layer of snow. Next, chisel away at the ice coating the windows.
- If your region sees huge volumes of snow, you might need a larger snow broom type of device that's big enough to push around snow that has piled up many inches atop your car.
Another tool you can consider adding to your arsenal is de-icer. De-icer is sprayed on your windshield and wipers. It melts ice and frost on impact. It also prevents buildup of ice, sleet and snow. If you want to make scraping off your car a bit easier, this is a great thing to have. It can be purchased for about $10 at your local hardware store.
In some ways, technology helps keep us safer. If you find yourself in an emergency, a quick phone call can be a life saver! However, your cell phone won’t be very helpful if it’s out of batteries! You can prevent this from happening by doing the following:
- Keep your electronics away from the cold as much as possible
- Keep an extra charger handy
- Check your battery’s capacity
- Consider having a backup device in the winter
- Keep extra batteries in your emergency kit for things like a flashlight
Carrying a spare tire in your vehicle can save you stress if you get a flat tire. The spare tire is your insurance, which will come in handy when you need it most. The spare tire in your car must be of good quality and in sound condition.
In addition to a spare tire, make sure you have winter tires! In cold weather, even on dry roads, the softer, more flexible rubber used in the construction of winter tires provides that all-important give that all-season tires lose when it's cold out.
Emergency flares or reflectors
Getting your car stuck any time of year is not something you want. But it can be extremely dangerous in winter. If there is a lot of snow, or even a storm, it can be difficult for other cars to spot you. It will be even more difficult to spot you if it’s night time. Keep in mind that it can even be difficult for a tow truck or emergency vehicle to spot you in a snow storm.
Reflectors or emergency flares can be life savers. Make sure you have these in your car, especially in the winter months.
A shovel, some rope and… kitty litter?
The last place you want to be is stuck in the snow. However, if it happens and you’re prepared, you should be fine. A small shovel will help you clear a path. You can use rock salt, sand or even kitty litter to gain traction. Spread the material in the area around your tires if you are in a slippery area. Finally, if you are really stuck you may need a rope, chain or tow chain to help you out. However, using these tools can be dangerous, so unless you have experience, call a professional for help.
The battery of your car can be affected by cold weather and may cause the battery to drain. If your battery is dead, your car won’t start! There’s even more bad news – when you can’t start your car, you can’t turn on the heat.
If you have jumper cables with you, it will be a lot easier to get a jump from a neighbour or passing driver. You might also be able to help out someone else who needs a jump!
Let us help you prepare for the moments you can’t plan for
Winter driving can be stressful. If you plan ahead and keep the above items in your car, you can drive in peace knowing you have your bases covered.
FAQS on being prepared for winter driving
Where should I store my winter emergency car kit?
Keep your winter kit readily available, in either your:
- Glove compartment
- Under your car seat
- In your trunk
What can I do to stay safe driving during winter?
- Set your vehicle up with winter tires
- Have a flat tire inflation canister (non-explosive) in your vehicle
- Have extra gloves, boots, and other winter clothing items
- When driving, keep a safe distance behind the car in front of you
- Drive slower than the speed limit when driving in unfavourable conditions
- Make sure your headlights and washer fluid are working
- Have your car brakes checked
What should I store my winter emergency items in?
Store your winter car supplies in a durable canvas bag.
For more FAQs, visit the BrokerLink FAQs page.