Preparing your Vehicle for Winter Driving

Winter is right around the corner and it’s that time to start thinking about being prepared for winter driving in the event of a breakdown or a nasty winter storm. Many of us unfortunately have to venture out even when the weather isn’t the greatest. In order to prepare for the harsh weather and winter driving, here are some key items that you should have in your car as a precaution.

  • Cell phone charger: Cell phones have become our greatest asset when it comes to just about everything, but this holds especially true in case of emergencies. Make sure your cell phone is fully charged or has the capability of charging on the go. There are nice portable phone chargers that can be used in case of emergency – just make sure it’s charged up before you head out! Mophie is a portable cell phone charge that can be used all year round.
  • Food & Water: Due to the fact that you might be waiting a while for help to arrive, make sure you have some water and snacks on hand. Trail mix and granola bars are good items since they have a long shelf life and most come in individual servings. While considering storing water, make sure you leave enough space at the top for expansion during freezing cold temperatures.
  • Blankets: In the event of a breakdown in cold weather it typically means you will not have heat. Blankets are essential in keeping you warm while you wait for help to arrive. It’s best to make sure to have at least one blanket per person that would most likely be in the vehicle. Places such as Bass Pro Shops sell emergency blankets that utilize your radiated body heat to keep you warm for as little as $4.99 each and they don’t take up much room.

Bonus: Carry heat packs with you in the winter, it’s like on-the-go warmth for your hands, as well as your feet!

  • Extra gloves/hat: It doesn’t hurt to have extra gloves and hats in case the ones you were wearing become wet from the snow. Make sure there is enough for everyone you may have in your car, especially the little ones.
  • Compact Mini Shovel: A compact emergency shovel could come in handy in case you get stuck in the snow, especially in parking lots where the plows may go through the center and block your vehicle in. It can also be a huge help to dig yourself out of a situation on the road.
  • Flashlight: Flashlights can definitely be a lifesaver if your vehicle breaks down at night. Have you ever tried changing a tire in the dark? It is not an easy task.
  • Signal device: Whether it’s flares or a brightly colored bandana that you can tie onto your cars antenna, it makes good sense to have some sort of signal to others on the road that you need help.
  • Sand or cat litter: Sand can help you get out of a slippery situation and yes, while it may sound strange, cat litter can help gain traction as well.
  • Jumper cables: Have you ever been stuck in a parking lot needing to jump your car? Only to realize you don’t have jumper cables and inevitably the people you stop for help also do not have them? Jumper cables are fairly inexpensive and easy to use so it’s probably not a bad idea to throw some in your trunk.
  • Small Fuel Container: It’s always a good idea to make sure to have at least a ½ tank of gas in your car at all times in winter. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t check their gas level so they end up running out of gas. Having a fuel container on hand could be beneficial as not all places have a spare. Typically, if they do have a spare they require a hefty deposit that you may not have on hand in the event of an emergency.
  • Travel medical kit: Regardless of a snow storm or breakdown it’s always a good idea to have some sort of medical kit in your car just in case you need an aspirin or a band-aid. Here’s a great one especially for a family with children.
  • Scraper/Snow brush: This should be a given when the white stuff starts flying!
  • De-icer: Not necessarily a necessity for if you get stuck, but this stuff is fantastic when it comes to removing ice off of your windows. Just spray it on and it crackles the ice making it easy to remove with a scraper. This is extremely useful on those freezing rain days (provided you can get your trunk open)!
  • Entertainment: Keeping a book or magazine to keep yourself occupied in the event you are stuck waiting for a tow truck isn’t a bad idea either. It can get extremely boring sitting in your vehicle with nothing to do.

While this may seem like a lot of preparation, it is always better to be prepared for a winter driving situation in which you are stranded than to have nothing on hand. Available at your convenience is an entire emergency kit that’s neatly packaged to take up less space in your trunk.

Another good idea is to check with your insurance company, as many of them have a towing plan that you can add to your policy.  It’s usually a minimal cost and covers towing charges in the event that you breakdown or have a flat tire, as well as lock-out service.