Stay safe: seven must-have items to keep in your car this winter
Cold weather is closing in and it is time to winterize your house, your yard and, of course, your car. This means going beyond topping up on anti-freeze. As we saw last year with incidents like the winter storm that stranded hundreds on Quebec’s Highway 13, you can’t always predict a severe turn in the weather and its consequences. In addition to car insurance, to protect yourself and your family, make sure you have the following items on board.
1. Warm clothing and blankets
When facing temperatures as low as -30°C, a car breakdown in a remote area could have deadly consequences. Make sure you have blankets and an extra winter coat, sweater, mitts, toques, and heavy socks inside the car to stay warm. As a bonus, keep disposable hand and toe warmers in your glove compartment.
2. A well-stocked first aid kit
Whatever the season, every car needs a first aid kit. This becomes even more important in winter when accidents skyrocket. Not only will this enable you to deal with minor injuries should an accident occur, it will also allow you to signal cars and get help if needed. This checklist will guide you as you compile your own kit (or you can simply purchase a pre-packed one) :
- Pair of scissors
- Bandages of all sizes
- Gauze pads of all sizes
- Adhesive tape
- Hot compress
- Alcohol prep pads
- Nitrile gloves
- Swiss Army or multi-function knife
- Seat belt cutter
- Emergency light sticks
- Flashlight and batteries or wind-up power flashlight
- Emergency blanket
3. A back-up phone charger
Long gone are the days of relying solely on flares and good luck. Now, almost everyone has a cell phone and it can save lives in a road-side emergency – albeit, only if it has battery power. Remember: batteries tend to drain quickly when temperatures drop, so charge yours before setting out. Also, keep an extra charger or battery pack in your glove compartment. You can even purchase a charger that comes with a hand-crank.
4. Snow removal tools
Ice scrapers and brushes come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and price points. Should you opt for a cheaply made version, you may live to regret it. Instead, look for a scraper with a long handle and sturdy parts. Additionally, a portable shovel and extra de-icer could prove invaluable for freeing a stuck car.
5. Traction helpers
Sometimes you need a helping hand to get out of a slippery situation. Keeping a set of traction aids, a towing rope or even a bag of sand or salt in the trunk can be just what you need when your car is stuck on a patch of ice. You equip yourself for winter, so be sure to equip your car, too!
While most local drivers will never find themselves trapped long enough for hunger to become a problem, those that take longer journeys will want to pack non-perishable food items (e.g. energy bars), just in case.
7. Tools, cables, and ropes
Depending on the type of vehicle you have, you should have a few simple tools with you, including light sticks, a flashlight, booster/jumper cables, and a tow rope or chain. That way, once help arrives you can expedite the effort.
Whether going on a short journey or heading out on a winter road-trip, the above will keep you safe and prepared. Stay warm out there!