Driving in the winter can present all kinds of problems for cars and drivers –reduced visibility from snow storms, icy patches on the road, and freezing temperatures. And that can be a good day. Drivers can easily find themselves stranded on the side of the road due to emergencies. If you find yourself in that situation, are you prepared?
You should always have a first aid kit in your car, regardless of the season. For first aid, make sure you have bandages, gauze, sanitizers and latex gloves. Even minor injuries can cause discomfort and can worsen over time. After all, you never know how long you could be waiting for help on the side of the road. Don’t forget to carry any required medications in case you’re stranded for a period of time.
Just like your first aid kit, you should always carry safety equipment in your trunk. Flares, safety vests, pylons and S.O.S signs help other drivers see you and your vehicle, which is especially important in the winter if it’s snowing. Pack a flashlight with spare batteries, and consider a headlamp to provide light for any roadside repairs in the dark.
Speaking of repairs, think about having a basic tool kit on hand. It doesn’t have to be extensive. Even a screwdriver, multi-tool and some rags can allow you to do quick fixes on the side of the road. Store it in your trunk with your jumper cables, a tow rope or chain, and an extension cord if you have a block heater.
During the winter months, you’ll want to add some winter-specific items to your roadside emergency kits. Be sure to have a windshield scraper and brush to clear away snow and ice from your car. Before leaving home, fill a spray bottle with -30 degree windshield washer fluid and place it in your car. This makes it easier to remove any ice built up on your windows or windshield. You should also pack a bag of sand or cat litter. Throw some down on the slippery patches to help your vehicle gain traction if it’s stuck. It’s also a good idea to carry a collapsible or small shovel in case your car becomes stuck in the snow.
Make sure you have items to keep you warm and comfortable in your vehicle. Blankets, warm clothes, toques, gloves, and boots can make a big difference if you’re stranded on the side of the road. Make sure to keep your boots in the body of the car rather than in the trunk so they stay warm. Matches, candles and a small tin can allow you to create heat as well as providing a light source. Place the lit candle in the can so you contain the flame and allow the metal to amplify the heat. Finally, have a supply of water and non-perishable food on hand. Granola bars, dried fruit and protein bars are filling and easy to store.
Even if you’re just going down the road, always carry a cell phone and make sure it’s charged. Emergencies can happen any time and you don’t want to be stranded without a way to call for help. Keep a car charger which can be used in case your cell battery is low or dead.
While preparing your emergency kit, make sure to include BrokerLink’s collision checklist. It helps you collect relevant information in the case of an accident. Call your BrokerLink broker to make sure you have the appropriate coverage for your car and to confirm all your information is up to date.
Winter driving presents a number of challenges and can be dangerous. Slow your speed and keep a safe distance between your vehicle and others. If anything happens, pull off to the side of the road and be cautious when exiting your car. Let’s keep this winter safe on the roads.