Safety Items to Keep In Your Car: The Winter Edition

You keep your home stocked with emergency supplies. (Right?)

What about your car?

During winter, extreme weather and road conditions can lead to all kinds of trouble when you’re commuting or traveling – crashes, being stranded, getting lost or stuck. And cold temperatures make those situations more dangerous than usual.

So keep a stockpile of emergency items in your car, just like you do in your house. In the best-case scenarios, you’ll never have to use them or they’ll help keep you comfortable for an hour or so while you wait for a tow truck to arrive. But, if you’re ever caught in a truly sticky situation, they just might be key to your survival.

The folks at the Wisconsin Emergency Management agency, as you can imagine, are quite familiar with the perils of winter travel. So don’t just take our word for it. Here are some of their recommendations for what to keep in your car to help keep you safe 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. And jumper cables are always good to have in your car, too.
  • A windshield scraper: Preferably one with a brush attached.
  • Blankets, sleeping bags, gloves 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: It could be hours before you get moving again, so you need to stay hydrated and nourished.
  • A first-aid kit: Keep one in your car no matter the time of year.
  • A battery-powered or hand-crank radio: Listen to weather updates, information on emergency response efforts, etc. while conserving your car’s battery.
  • Emergency flares, reflectors and a battery-powered or hand-crank flashlight: All of these will help you attract attention and help other drivers avoid you.

Your kit doesn’t have to be limited to the above, of course. Feel free to add items that suit your individual needs. But, most importantly, 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 or family.
  • Stay in your car if you get stuck. Walking to find help is an easy way to get lost and separated 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.
  • Add roadside assistance to your car insurance policy for help in an emergency.

Remember, it doesn’t take much time or money to prepare an emergency kit. It’s the potential cost of not having one that is enormous.

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Reposted with permission from the original author, Safeco Insurance.

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