Some of you are fortunate to live in climates where it doesn’t get cold and snowy. For the rest of us poor souls, huddled under a Snuggie, we have a few months of rough winter weather to get through.
If you’re in this situation, take a moment to assess your car’s emergency kit and if it’s adequately prepared for winter weather. As professional safety geeks, we have suggestions to keep your vehicle prepped for potential winter weather and road emergencies!
There are certain emergency provisions you should always have in your console or glove compartment, like a compact powerful flashlight, and a small first aid kit. But winter comes with some unique situations you can and should prepare for.
• Good Tires. It goes without saying that the single best tool in your winter driving preparedness kit is quality tires, in good condition and properly inflated. High quality all season tires are sufficient for most of us who can simply choose to stay home during a blizzard. However, when purchasing new tires, look for products that have the three-peak mountain snowflake (3PMSF) symbol branded on it. This icon indicates that tire has surpassed a minimum threshold in light snow acceleration traction. For those who live in snowy places and need to get to work regardless of what Mother Nature is dishing out at the moment, snow tires are probably a winter essential.
• Blankets. If you run out of fuel or your car won’t start, it could get really cold in there. Fleece throws are warm and take up relatively little room. If you have kids, chances are that you already have some blankets that live in your car during the cold weather months. Just make sure you have an extra blanket for yourself! You could also pick up a few space blankets to keep in the console or glove box. They’re not cozy, but they’re cheap, take up almost no room and they’ll get the job done in an emergency.
• Warm clothes. We don’t want kids wearing bulky winter coats in their carseat, but you always want to make sure you have coats, hats, and gloves available for everyone when it’s cold. That might seem like a no-brainer, but there have been plenty of times when I’ve run a quick winter errand and haven’t bothered taking my coat, since I’m just “running in”. If I got stranded and had to walk somewhere, I’d be woefully unprepared.
• Sand or kitty litter. If you get stuck in snow or ice, laying down a layer of grit can give you the traction you need to get out. Stick a small container of kitty litter in your car, and you’ll be prepared.
• A shovel. This one is pretty self-explanatory but since you probably don’t have room for a full-sized shovel, there are compact foldable or collapsible shovels available.
• Wiper fluid/de-icer. Have you ever been traveling on the interstate in the dead of winter, only to find your windshield covered in gray grime to the point where you could barely see and needed to pull off the road – all because you ran out of windshield washer fluid? Uh, me neither? (In our defense, we had just moved from Southern California and didn’t really understand these things yet).
• Portable Battery Charger/Jump Starter. This is actually a great product to have year-round, but especially in the winter. Many of these products, like the popular lithium powered NOCO Boost Plus GB40 1000Amp, are roughly the size of a clutch bag. When charged, it can jump start your battery or charge your cell phone. The new NOCO Boost X GBX45 1250Amp model has a USB-C port which charges the unit faster and serves as a power bank for your USB-C devices. If your phone charges through a USB-C port, you’re better off with the GBX45 model.
• Portable Air Compressor/Tire Inflator. While there are some all-in-one emergency products that include an air compressor, this Air Compressor Tire Inflator is a fantastic and inexpensive product that Kecia has used on a regular basis thanks to a slow leak in one of her tires that the shop can’t seem to locate. It’s about the size of a hardcover book, plugs into the 12v outlet in your vehicle (for old folks, that’s what used to be the cigarette lighter) and the cord is long enough to reach all 4 tires. This model has an LCD display screen and automatically shuts of when your tire is inflated to the set psi, so you can walk away (or get back into your warm vehicle) while it’s inflating the tire. If you’re tired of going to the gas station to put air in your tires, this inexpensive gizmo works like a dream and is easy to use.
Stay safe & prepared out there, friends!