Via Ready Wisconsin
A flat tire or car trouble is a bad enough experience in good weather. Add snow, wind, ice, or rain and it becomes not only miserable but dangerous. Winter is coming on fast, and before you know it, snow will blanket wide swaths of the country. While beautiful, the snow and ice can also be dangerous and preparing for winter weather is important, especially for motorists. Before going out in the wind and weather, take the time to put together an emergency winter car kit. Most necessary items can be found at home and fit into a plastic storage tote or even a backpack. It's inexpensive, simple to do, and could save your life or someone else's.
When an emergency strikes, the first tool most people reach for is right in their pocket – a mobile phone. Most of us couldn't imagine living without one, and in bad weather, they become that much more important. Make sure that you pack a mobile phone charger which plugs into your car's cigarette lighter for a quick power boost. You might also want to have a physical list of important numbers on hand, just in case your own phone dies.
Whether you've gotten stuck in snow, mud, or ice, there are a few helpful items you can pack to make getting out easier. First, always have a snow shovel and window scraper. Shovels with telescoping handles are particularly useful and easy to store, even in small cars. Rock salt, sand, or kitty litter helps create traction under your wheels and gets you unstuck faster. As a bonus, having a large bag of any of these in your trunk adds extra weight to the back of your car and helps you stay stable while driving on slippery roads. Remember to have road flares or emergency triangles, and set them up near your vehicle in low-visibility conditions, such as heavy snow.
In cold weather, hypothermia is a real and present danger. In addition to a blanket or sleeping bag to stay warm in the car, you should also store an extra set of clothes, including shoes, socks, hats, and gloves. If you get wet or sweaty, change clothing as soon as possible. Wearing wet clothing causes you to lose body heat much faster and can put you at risk for frostbite.
Waiting for a tow truck or other help can take hours, especially if the roads are extremely snowy. Instead of risking walking to a convenience store, keep snacks, such as granola bars, nuts, or chocolate, on hand, along with small bottles of water. 8 oz or 16 oz water bottles are easier to thaw than gallons if they freeze, and don't require a cup. If you're travelling with children, keep them in mind while packing your emergency kit and include extra clothing, diapers, and age-appropriate snacks or formula. Storing books or games in the car will help fight boredom during the long wait.
While it's best to stay off the road in hazardous conditions, sometimes going out is unavoidable. If you planned a move that falls on a snowy or icy day, remember to bring your emergency kit with you, or ask if the moving truck you're using has one. Take it slow, especially if you're not used to driving large vehicles, and when you arrive at your new house or cube, ensure any outdoor paths are salted. Taking short breaks throughout the move to warm up and get a hot drink is highly recommended.
Remember to check and rotate emergency supplies at least twice per year, and to update what you've packed based on expected temperatures and conditions. Water needs to be changed every six months to remain safe for consumption, snacks should be rotated between two and four times per year, and if you have children, it's important to update the clothing and activities packed for them as they grow. If there's a storm expected and you don't have access to your trunk from the inside of your car, move the emergency kit to your back seat. Even with a fully stocked emergency winter car kit, try to stay off the roads in bad conditions when possible, and avoid taking unnecessary risks. Drive safe this winter!