No matter how carefully you drive, you can't control the actions of others around you, and you can't control the weather. Accidents happen, and they often have a domino effect, especially in inclement weather such as the recent 40 vehicle pileup in Wisconsin on Interstate 94.
While the savvy consumer will be fully insured and have roadside assistance, it's important you have backup supplies. When major accidents happen, waiting for a tow truck can take longer than usual as emergency vehicles, and police must do their job first.
Whether you find yourself stranded in cold weather because of an accident or simple car troubles, keeping emergency supplies on hand can mean the difference between life and death. Here are 9 things every driver should keep in their winter emergency kit.
A Sturdy Shovel
Slippery snow or ice-covered roads are dangerous. It's difficult to know where the road is when you can't see the yellow lines, and icy and slushy surfaces can pull vehicles into ruts or the ditch. Deep snow is difficult to go through unless you have a 4WD vehicle. Keeping a shovel in your trunk will allow you to potentially free yourself if you find yourself stuck.
A Bag Of Cat Litter
Cat litter is an inexpensive way to gain traction on icy surfaces or in heavy, wet snow. Placing kitty litter in front of and behind each tire can provide just enough grip to get you moving again.
Hand warmers are inexpensive, small disposable packets that are filled with substances that when combined produce an exogenic chemical reaction, which provides heat. When your find yourself in need of warmth, simply massage the packet to combine and activate the process. Most hand warmers will provide heat for several hours.
Ice Scraper And Brush
Every car that lives in or travels through an area that receives cold weather, ice, and snow needs to have a scraper and brush combo. All windows in your car as well as your side mirrors should be completely cleared before getting on the road, and you'll need an ice scraper and brush to do it.
Reflective Heat Blankets
Keep a 4-pack of these lightweight, inexpensive blankets that resemble aluminum foil in your vehicle. They use your body heat to provide extra warmth and will help guard against hypothermia.
A dead battery is an annoyingly common fact of life in cold climates. Whether you need them for yourself or you can be of help to others, knowing you have jumper cables with you will give you peace of mind.
People often underdress, even if they live in a cold snowy climate. They don't want to wear big, bulky coats, hats, and gloves when they are "only going from the house to the car." Keep extra winter gear in your car so it is there if you need it.
Food And Water
Keep a spare jug or two of water as well as high-energy snacks like granola bars and nuts. Be sure to keep these items in a tightly sealed container to keep out critters that may find their way into your trunk, a common occurrence in some regions.
A Five-Gallon Bucket
Hopefully you won't be stranded for long before the tow truck makes it to you, but in case nature calls, a bucket can help make your wait more comfortable. It is usually too dangerous in winter condition to leave your vehicle for a potty break. A 5-gallon bucket is also the perfect place to store your emergency food supply and anything else that fits.
For more information, get in touch with a roadside assistance company near you.