What should be in your winter driving safety kit?

What is a winter driving safety kit?

A winter driving safety kit is a collection of items that you can keep in your vehicle, to assist you if you are stranded or if your vehicle gets stuck in ice or snow this winter.   In the event of an emergency, a winter driving safety kit could be the difference between a minor inconvenience and a life-threatening situation.

What items should a winter driving safety kit contain?

Although the items that you select for your kit might vary, typical items include:[1]

  • A shovel
  • A windshield scraper
  • A small broom
  • Water
  • Non-perishable food
  • A first aid kit including any necessary medications
  • Salt or sand to provide traction
  • Matches and candles
  • Hand-powered flashlight
  • Battery-powered radio
  • Car-adaptable cell phone charger
  • Blankets and warm clothing
  • A tow rope
  • Booster cables
  • Emergency flares and distress flag

What should I do if my vehicle is stuck in ice or snow?

If your car gets stuck in ice or snow, the first step is to calmly assess your situation. Is this a short-term problem or a long-term survival situation? Next, make sure you and your passengers stay warm by using the blankets and clothing from your kit. Even if you believe you can get yourself unstuck quickly, don’t allow your body temperature to drop too low. This can be very dangerous if you are stranded longer than anticipated.[2]

The next step is to try to get your car unstuck. In the kit you should have sand for traction, flares to flag down passing motorists, and a towrope. Together these tools should be adequate for all but the most seriously stuck cars. Don’t hesitate to contact emergency services for help – being stuck on the side of the road during wintertime can be a dangerous and potentially life-threatening situation to both the passengers of the stuck car and other motorists.[3]

The worst-case scenario is being in a stranded car in an area with little or no traffic and no ability to contact the authorities. Your stranding has now turned into a long-term survival situation, and the best thing you can do is wait out the storm in the shelter of your vehicle.  Deploy your flares and flags to try and attract help. Conserve the battery power of your car as much as possible. Once the flares are exhausted, keep only a single light on. Rescuers can see even a very dim glow for a long way on a dark night. Only run the engine for ten minutes out of every hour, and make absolutely sure the exhaust pipe is clear of snow buildup.[4]

Being stranded during a winter storm is a daunting prospect, but the right winter driving safety kit can give you the tools you need to make it through successfully. Plan ahead now, and you’ll thank yourself later.

About the Author: Charles Allen is a Richmond car accident lawyer with Allen & Allen. He has obtained an “AV Preeminent” rating from Martindale Hubbell and has handled personal injury cases for Virginians for more than 25 years.

[1] http://www.nd.gov/

[2] http://readywisconsin.wi.gov/winter/HowToMakeAKit.asp

[3] Ibid.

[4] http://www.kcbd.com/story/1027151/what-to-do-if-trapped-in-your-car-during-a-blizzard