If you listened to your mom, chances are that you never drive anywhere in the winter without a tuque, mittens and, of course, clean underwear. But warm clothing is just the bare basics needed for surviving a wintertime roadside emergency.
Whether you’ve been in an accident, hit the ditch, or simply have to pull over because you’ve found yourself in whiteout blizzard conditions, these six items could save your life this winter:
First-aid kit: Along with all the basics, make sure your kit includes: a seatbelt cutter, a whistle (to attract attention), a candle in a deep can with matches (for light and warmth), and a wind-up flashlight. You may also want to consider including a package of disposable hand warmers, which can be inserted in shoes or mittens for extra warmth.
Standard roadside emergency supplies: Although not specific to winter travel, you should always have road flares, a towrope, windshield washer fluid, and battery jumper cables in your trunk. Boost your kit for all seasons by adding a small shovel; a scraper and snowbrush; and kitty litter, sand or salt, which can be used for creating traction in icy conditions.
Bottled water and snacks: Choose non-perishable food items, such as energy or protein bars and make sure to store these in an easily accessible spot.
Blanket: Make sure your car is equipped with a warm blanket, even if it’s just a cheap fleece version. This item is not just for saving your own life, but for saving the life of others. If you come across a roadside accident, a blanket is an invaluable offering to those stranded or hurt. It can also help to treat shock and hypothermia until emergency vehicles or a tow truck arrives. Space blankets are also a great item—they are highly compressible and their reflective surface can be used to attract the attention of emergency crews.
Extra clothing, including shoes: Unless you’re certain that a bit of shovelling and kitty litter will do the trick, the best course of action is often to stay in your vehicle. Call for help and conserve your energy. However, if you do happen to get wet—either from snow or perspiration—a change of dry clothes can save your life, conserving important body heat.
Playing cards or other small games: If you’ve hit the ditch and you’re waiting for help to arrive, you’ll want to turn off your engine to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, and to conserve both your car and cell phone battery. You’ll also need something to pass the time while you wait for help. Having a set of playing cards on hand will help take your mind off the cold, distracting kids and adults alike.
What else do you carry to stay safe while winter driving?