During an emergency is a lousy time to think of all the things you should have been carrying. As the days get colder and snow becomes imminent, you need to be prepared for the worst. In this article we’ll go over the essential items that should be in your car’s winter emergency kit.
If you live in New England, you should have these in your car anyway. Driving with snow on your car is difficult, unsafe, and, in some cases, illegal. Whether you prefer form or function, there’s an ice scraper out there for you. Find one you like, and that works well, and toss it in your trunk for when you need it.
A spray bottle of deicer can also be very helpful, in case of thick or stubborn ice.
Trying to move snow with your hands, even in gloves, can cool you down fast. Digging out snow from under the car or around the wheels is much easier and faster with a proper shovel. If you don’t have room for a full-sized shovel, which most people don’t, the next best thing is a foldable shovel.
A small bag of safety absorbent goes a long way when you’re trying to regain traction when you’re stuck on ice. Cat litter also works, but floor sweep absorbent works better. It’s sold at most auto parts stores, it’s sprinkled on garage floors before sweeping to absorb oil and grease. If you have four-wheel drive, brush up on the basics before winter; four wheel drive is great, but it doesn’t improve handling on slick or icy roads.
You know what a light colored car, in a ditch, in a snowstorm looks like? Nothing. If ever you get stranded somewhere and your car’s electrical system is out of commission, you’ll need a way to signal other cars and rescue workers. Keep a small flashlight in the glove box or center console, along with some spare batteries, just to be safe.
You can also buy an emergency signal kit which usually includes reflectors, flares, and a flashlight.
Having a small toolkit in your car is a good idea anyway, but it’s especially important in the winter. At the very least, you should have a multitool, jumper cables, and the tools to change a flat.
If you do get stranded, it will be important to stay warm. Carrying a blanket, sleeping bag, and/or extra clothes is a must during the winter months. Blankets, especially are multi-purpose items- not only can they keep you warm in a winter emergency, but can be used to treat victims in shock year round. Handwarmers are another awesome thing to have on hand- they’ll generate a little extra heat so you’re not relying solely on body heat. If you’re really tight on space, at the very least toss a couple of space blankets into your trunk.
Again, it’s a good idea to have one of these in your car anyway. Most pharmacies and department stores will have a basic one for $10 or less, with all the essential items. Be sure to include spare medications if you need them to make sure you can stay alert if you’re ever waiting for help. Brush up on your first aid skills, or take a class through the Red Cross, so you’re ready if the situation calls for something more than a bandage.
This is a pretty comprehensive item, but it’s probably the most important. Most emergencies can be prevented by keeping your vehicle in top condition- ensuring your fluids are changed at the proper intervals and topped off where applicable, making sure your tires are in good shape, addressing repairs as soon as possible. Having a forward-thinking, preventative mindset when it comes to maintenance will save you a lot of time and money, and keep you safer on the road.
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Since 1988, our family owned and operated service center has been providing top quality auto repair services to Agawam, Feeding Hills, Southwick, West Springfield and the surrounding Massachusetts communities. If your car needs maintenance or repair before this winter season, call us at (413)314-2280 or schedule an appointment online.