Are you ready for winter? How about your car? Is your car prepared for any winter emergency? Do you have the right accessories and equipment for winter driving? I grew up in snowy upstate NY, where packing the car for winter driving is almost second nature. Here’s my list of the top ten winter car accessories and supplies. Don’t leave home without them.
1. Cell Phone. Cell phones used to be a luxury. Now I wonder what I would do without one. Why is a cell phone so important as a winter driving accessory? There are so many uses for a cell phone in a winter driving emergency. You can phone a friend, a tow truck or your local road service. Don’t be stuck without a means of communication while driving this winter. Bring your cell phone and a car charger as well.
2. GPS. Here’s another bit of technology that can save your life in a snowstorm. Blocked routes? It’ll get you around them. Can’t see to drive in an emergency? It’ll guide your path. Out of gas? It’ll tell you where the next service station is. Got a flat? Find a repair shop in a jiffy. How far away is help? Look up anything you need, then call them on your cell. These two winter car accessories combined will have you sitting on your sofa with a hot cocoa and a good book in a hurry.
3. Battery Charger. Nothing like a dead battery in a snowstorm. Don’t panic, though. Just call your boss or your house and let them know you’ll be late. Pull out your battery charger for a quick short term charge. Use your GPS to get you to the nearest auto parts store. Now that’s a triple whammy use of the top ten winter car accessories.
4. Jumping Cables. No battery charger? That’s OK. Just whip out your old school jumper cables. Flag down a passer by for help. Fear of strangers? That’s OK. You still have your cell phone. Call a friend to come give you a jump. Don’t know how to use them? Call a service station for instructions. Don’t know the number? Look it up on your GPS. Problem solved thanks to four fabulous winter car accessories.
5. Gas Can / Spare Tire. A gas can is one of the most important winter car accessories you can have. Let me be specific, though. Do not carry a full can of gas in your car. It’s flammable and extremely dangerous. Bring an empty gas can and a spare tire. Running out of gas or getting a flat in the freezing cold is no joke. Call a friend and give them your exact location. Look up the nearest service station on your GPS. If you can walk there, bundle up and go for it. If not, use that phone to call the police.
6. Shovel. This winter car accessory may sound old school. Still, it’s invaluable for digging yourself out of a ditch or snowbank. It’s easy to slip and slide on icy winter roads. Even the best of drivers have done this. What’s the secret when you feel yourself going into a skid? Ease off on the gas and turn in the same direction you are skidding. If it doesn’t work, you have your trusty shovel to dig yourself out of the snowbank.
7. Ice Melt / Rock Salt. You find yourself spinning in place on an icy patch, Your vehicle has left the road. Don’t despair. You have a winter car accessory in your trunk that will help considerably. Some call it ice melt. Some call it rock salt. Either way, it’s a great help in melting the ice under your spinning tire. For a combo effort, put a floor mat under the back of the tire and drive onto it. Between these two things, you’ll be out in a jiffy.
8. Flares / Flashlights. Your vehicle has broken down. You’re stuck on the highway. You’ve already used your cell to call 911. What do you do to keep yourself visible to approaching cars? Look in the vehicle for your emergency winter car accessories. You should have some flares to place on the road. No flares? Use a flashlight. Raise the hood of the car. This will alert oncoming traffic to your presence. While you’re waiting, check your emergency supplies for survival items.
9. Clothing / Blankets. Depending on how long it takes for help to arrive, these winter car accessories can be a lifesaver. Take blankets out of the trunk right after you call for help. Bundle up. If your car will, start, run it for heat once each half hour. Use the extra clothing for layers of warmth or to change into. Clothes grow cold and wet when working on the car in the snow.
10. Food / Water. It’s always good to keep a couple gallons of water in the trunk of your car. Pack some energy bars as well. Use them to stave off hunger and dehydration while waiting for help to arrive. The best course of action in winter is to stay with your vehicle. It’s OK to walk to a known location for help if visibility is clear and help can be found within a mile of your vehicle. Meanwhile, be glad you thought ahead and packed all these winter car accessories. Better safe than sorry.