If you followed our tips from yesterday, “Get Your Car Ready” your car should be in tip-top shape for the cold winter months. However, severe winter weather may find you stuck or stranded, in an accident or sliding off the road. Snow and ice can cause traffic backups for hours, or if on a road less traveled, it might be a long time before someone can rescue you. You will want an emergency kit in your car to keep you safe, warm and hydrated while forced to wait it out. If you are stuck, run the heater in your car for only 10 minutes every hour to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning with a window cracked. Stay inside your car as much as possible. Do not get out and walk, especially in whiteout conditions. Keep your interior light on so rescue workers can see you.
In addition, the following items are essential for your winter weather emergency vehicle kit:
I keep a case of bottled water in the back floorboard of my car, not in the trunk. Smaller bottles will be easier to thaw than a gallon jug.
You don’t need full meals and days worth of food for your emergency car kit, but protein bars and other non-perishable snacks to tide you over. I keep a few energy bars in the glove box and various items from MREs in the center console, such as peanut butter, gum and crackers.
You will need to keep the snow out of your exhaust pipe to avoid carbon monoxide from getting inside your car. A shovel will also come in handy by digging snow from around your car’s tires.
I keep a thick, down comforter and lighter-weight sheet in my trunk. However, in case the trunk has frozen shut, keep an emergency blanket in the car.
Cold temperatures effect batteries, so buy a crank flashlight in case the batteries fail. The flashlight I keep in my car has a floodlight feature that illuminates a wider amount of space to change tires or look under the hood when it is dark.
Besides keeping your interior light on, hang a distress or signal flag on the windshield. Alternatively, you can tie a brightly colored rag or bandana to the antenna. Use your horn as an SOS signal by long blasts, 10 minutes apart. If all else fails, you can stamp “SOS” or “HELP” in the snow surrounding your car.
Watching the weather, planning your route and telling someone where you are going and when you are leaving will aid in your recovery should you become stranded. Remember to keep your gas tank at least half-full and your cell phone charged.