Living in the Midwest has given all of us more than our fair share of winter weather and driving in that winter weather. I am not one who likes to drive in the best of conditions, and icy, snowy roads can make my anxiety skyrocket. However, being prepared is the best way I know how to be calm and ready to drive.
Anyone can get into an emergency situation, whether you drive professionally as part of your job or just drive when you need to get somewhere. You never know what might happen when you venture out in winter weather. Having a winter survival kit can help any high-anxiety situation become an easily-manageable event.
Many people probably have their essentials that they always bring with them. Creating a winter survival kit is just that, but with even more essentials. If you don’t have time or aren’t sure what to put in your survival kit, you can always buy one. However, if you want to create your own, you usually get heavier duty, higher quality products in your kit. Take a look at this list for some ideas of major essentials:
A flashlight and extra batteries for it
Candles and matches
Non-perishable food and bottled water
Blankets and extra snow gear (including hats, gloves, coats, etc.)
Cell phone charger
Rags, hand cleaners, baby wipes, etc.
Road flares, reflective triangles, or a brightly colored piece of fabric can help alert people to your location
A compass and paper maps
Spare change and cash
A basic first aid kit
Tire chains, tow strap, bag of sand (for getting out if stuck in the snow)
A small fire extinguisher
Items for handling a flat tire (spare tire, jack, tire gauge, lug wrench, etc)
Sleeping bags for longer trips
Your winter survival kit is important. Being prepared in other ways is just as important. Here’s a few tips to follow as well:
- Share your travel plans and route with someone before leaving.
- Don’t leave your car if stranded in bad weather.
**You can get lost, hurt, frostbite, etc. if you leave your vehicle. You’re more likely to stay safe and warm if you stay with your vehicle as well as being easier to find. Only leave your vehicle to make sure your exhaust pipe is unobstructed and to put flares or other bright signs around your vehicle.**
- Keep the gas tank above halfway to avoid gas line freeze-up or in case of getting stranded
- Make sure tires are properly inflated
- Beware of black ice
- Have a mechanic check your vehicle before longer trips
- Avoid driving while sick; your reaction time is reduced
- Increase following distance to 8-10 seconds and don’t use cruise control in wintry conditions
- Accelerate and decelerate slowly
- Make sure your windows are defrosted and clear as well as the top of your vehicle is clear of snow and ice
- In a pinch, use floor mats for traction
Winter weather and driving can be difficult, but being prepared doesn’t have to be. Get your winter survival kit put together and relax. Be prepared and stay safe this winter!