By Arthur Elk
Like the Boy Scouts always say, it pays to be prepared. Are you prepared for any emergency that may occur while you are driving?
Automotive emergencies can take many forms – from accidents to breakdowns. If you live in an area where you must deal with winter weather for several months each year, a winter survival kit is an essential part of being prepared for whatever emergencies may come your way.
Snow, cold, ice and slush can all play havoc with your vehicle as you try to navigate your path across treacherous winter roadways. The odds of you having a driving emergency during the winter are much higher than in the other three seasons.
That’s why it is so important for you to have some essential items in your car at all times – a winter survival kit.
What are 10 items you should definitely have in your winter survival kit?
1) Blanket. If you are stuck in a stranded car, you will want a warm blanket, or several warm blankets, to retain your body heat.
2) Snow shovel. Keep a short-handled shovel in the trunk in case you need to remove snow from around the wheels of your vehicle. Plastic ones may work, but a metal one may be preferred in case you need to chip away some ice or compacted snow.
3) Flashlights. Always have at least two water-proof flashlights with fresh batteries in case you breakdown or have an accident at night.
4) Bottle of water. The human body can last days without food. However, serious organ damage or even death can result if you are without water for more than 12 hours. Water can also be used to clean wounds, and to fill your radiator if your car overheats.
5) Food. Packaged nuts and seeds are good choices, as are protein bars – these items can withstand temperature changes without becoming spoiled. Packaged dried fruits or dehydrated foods designed for camping also work well for car emergency kits. They can provide fats, protein, and essential nutrients your body needs to help you get through a roadside emergency.
6) Spare cell phone charger. Having an extra charger in your car could mean the difference between you having to walk for help or being able to call for assistance.
7) Flares. Flares should be placed behind your vehicle if you break down or are pulled off to the side of the road so other vehicles can see you at night or in inclement winter weather. Be sure to include several books of matches or a couple of lighters, so you will be able to light the flares if necessary.
8) Jumper cables. Cold weather has a way of sapping your battery’s charge, potentially leaving you stranded on a frigid winter night. If all you need to get back on the road is a jump start, it pays to have your own set, instead of hoping the person nice enough to stop and help you has a set.
9) Hot packs/hand warmers. Available at camping stores, all you have to do is smash these bags and the chemical reaction inside creates warmth for up to 14 hours.
10) Basic first aid kit. Antiseptic wipes, adhesive bandages, pain relievers, and cold compresses should all be placed in your emergency kit. Any of these items may come in handy if you are ever in an accident or trapped in your car.
Once you have assembled your winter survival kit, be sure to check it throughout the winter to make sure nothing is broken or expired.
While having a winter survival kit can’t prevent emergencies from happening, it can make sure you get through the experience as comfortably as possible. Be prepared and be safe this winter.