Snow. Black ice. Freezing temps. Winter driving conditions can run the gamut from slight nuisance to extreme hazard. But with the right gear and a little prep, you can put yourself in a better position to deal with an accident or unexpected delay while on a cold, wintry road. Here are 10 items to stash in your winter driving kit.
1. A folding shovel
If you find yourself suddenly snowed in or stuck in a snow bank, a good shovel can be a lifesaver. Check out compact, lightweight folding varieties that store easily in the trunk.
2. A windshield scraper and de-icer
3. Extra water and high-energy snack foods
Even in cold weather, staying hydrated is extremely important. Bring along a few bottles of clean water with you before you head out. And stow some high-energy snack foods with a long shelf life (like energy bars, unsalted trail mix, and hard candy) in your car at all times.
4. Emergency signaling device
Flares are incredibly useful if you’re stuck in snow — they can be used to start a signal fire, and the heat they emit helps them stay visible in heavy snow conditions. Battery-powered signals are valuable too and have the benefit of staying lit longer than a flare.
5. A flashlight with extra batteries
6. A way to charge your cell phone
Being able to use your cell phone is going to be a huge help in any emergency. Whether you carry a portable charger, power pack, or adapter, make sure you have a reliable, remote way to charge your cell phone when your battery gets low.
7. A wireless beacon
Going off the grid or into an area with no cell service? Consider picking up an emergency beacon, which can wirelessly transmit your GPS location to family and emergency services using satellite technology.
8. A first-aid kit
9. Warm clothes and a blanket
If you need to use your car as a temporary shelter, you won’t be able to run the engine for heat indefinitely. Bring extra layers that can keep your extremities warm (think knit hats, a pair of socks, gloves, and a warm blanket). Hand and feet warmers are also easy to store and can help keep you toasty in case of emergency.
10. Snow socks or chains
Take extra precautions when driving in winter and do what you can to help reduce your risk of a weather-related accident.