- Car Safety & Safe Driving
Winterize Your Vehicle For Emergency Preparedness and Safety
It's Important to Keep Your Vehicle Winter Ready Before the Cold Season Hits
Wintertime can be a beautiful white wonderland full of snow draped mountains and valleys. Winter can also be a time of icy roads, slushy driving conditions, and blackouts on isolated areas. Being prepared in case of an emergency will increase your chances of survival in the cold and help you get home safely. Not only should there be concern for your safety in the winter, while driving on snowy roads, but also for your family's safety as well. Here is a list of 10 things every vehicle should have to be prepared for winter conditions and emergency issues that arise. All or most of these winter emergency items can be stored in the trunk or glove box.
10 Most Important Emergency Items to Keep in Your Vehicle
Blankets: Every vehicle should be equipped with 2 or 3 warm blankets or sleeping bags to protect bodies from the winter cold. Blankets are also great for laying on the ground if you need to get under the car or to cover up windows to keep the chilly wind from getting in the cracks.
Extra change of clothes: You should always carry an extra change of clothes in your vehicle in case you get wet, muddy, or even to layer to keep warm. With winter temperatures so cold, it's important to always stay dry and warm. You can even use the extra clothes as rags if needed when checking the oil, twisting off tough to pull caps, or changing a flat tire. It's also important to have an extra change of clothes in case you need to stay over at a motel/hotel if you get stranded.
Flares: Flares can be used to signal to others that you are in need of assistance. Roadside flares are commonly used to let others know that you need help and are recognized as such. You can light the flares and set them around the vehicle so that others slow down to help when they see them lit. Flares can be purchased at a AAA center or any car parts store. Flashlight: A flashlight can be used to see anywhere and anytime it is dark. For instance, if your vehicle breaks down at night, you’ll need a flashlight to see outside and into the engine of the car, or to fix a flat tire if that be the case. A flashlight is also great for signaling passers to pull over and help.
Full Gas Container: When traveling anywhere, especially in the winter, it is a good idea to have a gas container full of gas in your trunk. Imagine if you break down simply because you run out of gas and have nothing to help get you to a gas station. With a gas container, full of gas, you’ll be able to get your vehicle to the nearest gas station to fill up in a jiffy.
Canned Goods & A Can Opener: Keeping non-perishable foods on hand is a great way to be emergency prepared during the winter. One can never know what will happen if your vehicle breaks down in the cold and you are stranded. It’s a good idea to make sure you have enough food to last you until help arrives. Store a box of canned goods and a can opener in the trunk to be prepared for an emergency.
Jugs of Water: If you get stranded during the winter and are left in the cold, it’s a good idea to be sure you have plenty of water to survive. We can live on water for a long time. In fact, our bodies can live without food, but they cannot live without water. Keeping a few gallons of water in the vehicle in the winter will ensure that you prepared for a vehicle emergency if need be.
Spare Tire: It may sound funny to list this as a necessity, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t have a spare tire in their vehicle. Either it’s been used and was never replaced by the owner or the vehicle is used and the new owner never purchased a spare tire. In any case, it’s important to have a spare tire on hand at all times in case of an emergency during the winter. Just think if all you need is a spare tire to get you on your way again and out of the cold, wouldn’t you be grateful to have one?
Car Jack: In order to replace a flat tire, you’ll need a car jack. A car jack will help to lift up the vehicle so that you can take off the flat tire and replace it with the spare tire tucked away in the car. What’s really nice is because you made sure to pack your blankets in the car, you’ll have something to lay down so that you can comfortably change the tire using the jack and the blanket.
First Aid Kit: Every car should always have a first aid kit packed either in the glove box or middle console. Emergencies happen, even small cuts and scraps. Be prepared with a first aid kit full of bandaids, antiseptic, antibiotic ointment, gauze, scissors, tape, bandages, and everything else you need to fix wounds in a jiffy. I even keep a small first aid kit in my purse.
Tools: You should always keep a small toolbox in the car in case of winter emergencies. Tools come in handy quite nicely for fixing even the littlest of car trouble. Plus, you may find that you need a certain type of tool to use in your survival, such as a monkey wrench to fix a busted window roller arm.
Stock up, Stock up!
There are other items you could probably stock in your vehicle that may come in handy as well, but the main items to keep you safe during an emergency are the ones listed above. If you're a planner like me, you may want to place other items in your emergency kit such as cat litter, warm coats, extra (waterproof) boots, flashlights, extra cell phone chargers, and more. For a list of more emergency items you could place in your kit...see the resource list below.
Emergency Preparedness Links
Putting Together your Winter Emergency Car Kit
Winter Car Emergency Kits
How to Make a Winter Survival Kit
Winter Driving - Emergency Car Kit (Washington State DOT)
What to Carry in Your Roadside Emergency Kit