One of the more important items that many drivers forget to place in their vehicle is an emergency vehicle safety kit, and this item is of even greater importance for the winter season. Even in an urban setting, the possibility of getting stranded in your vehicle during a blizzard for a prolonged period of time exists. Every year, we hear stories of this very thing happening, even if it’s just for a few hours on a highway, or even overnight. Occasionally, these incidents can last for several days or longer on rural back roads, and the risk needs to be taken seriously.
A basic Winter Safety Kit should be a necessity to ensure that you will be kept safe and warm in your vehicle in case of stranding. A proper kit should help you to accomplish two main things; it will help you to get unstuck and back on your way, or it will help you to survive until help arrives if you can’t get unstuck or are stranded during severe winter weather. The following basic items fit into these two categories:
A snow shovel – to dig yourself free or to keep your vehicle clear of snow, and to keep your exhaust pipe clear if leaving the engine on to use the vehicle’s heater
Traction mats / bag of gravel – sometimes just a little extra traction is all you need to get moving again
A good windshield scraper & brush – to remove snow and ice from your vehicle’s roof and windshield
A small tarp (5’x7’) – you will stay warmer, drier and much more comfortable if you have a tarp to use when forced to kneel in the snow to make repairs
Battery cables / boost jumper – cold weather is rough on your battery and can prevent your vehicle from starting when it’s most needed; a self-contained battery “boost” jumper is best and will work without another car present to help you out (check regularly to ensure it is fully charged)
A tow chain/strap – having something strong & reliable to help pull you free from deep snow or a ditch is a must for your kit
A flashlight and spare batteries – you may need help to see what you are doing
Water – for drinking to remain hydrated, a stainless steel water bottle can also be used to melt snow in an emergency
Food – cookies, crackers, chocolate bars, jerky and dried fruits/nuts will give you the required calories to keep your body temperature up until help arrives
Extra clothing and blankets – you may need clean, dry clothes & gloves if you have to spend any time out of the vehicle and a blanket to keep warm
Waterproof matches / lighter – flame will help to keep you warm and melt snow for drinking; in rural areas, a camp stove (with spare fuel bottles) may be a better option
It is best if you can place all of these items inside a zippered water-resistant duffle bag to keep your kit organized and dry. Place it in your trunk or under the back seat. Hopefully you will never need to use it, but you’ll be glad for it should you do! The time to take action and organize your Winter Safety Vehicle Kit is NOW – before the first snowflakes begin to fall.