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What Should Be in My Vehicle’s Winter Safety Kit?

Published: Dec 21, 2021 in Auto Accident
winter safety

Driving on Illinois roads during the winter requires experience and preparation. Even a short trip to work could turn into an ordeal if a blizzard blows through while you are at work and the roads are full of snow when you want to get home. Whether you run into a snowstorm or other winter-related travel issue locally or while on a long road trip, you could improve the situation by making and keeping a few things for use in case of an emergency.

Jumper Cables, Flashlight, and Toolbox

Winter is when many car batteries die in Illinois. The first freeze often kills old batteries that cannot take a full charge. And whenever the outdoor temperature drops by 25 degrees in the winter, your car’s battery doubles its discharge rate. Jumper cables could help you to start a weak battery and help you get home or to a parts store for a new battery.

You should carry a flashlight to help see under the hood and a toolbox with a variety of useful and well-organized tools that could help to tight a loose battery cable or similar issue. It is not recommended to use candles for light or for warmth. Candles can post a fire hazard. Best to stick with a flashlight and extra batteries.

Items that Get You Unstuck

No matter how well you prepare your vehicle or how carefully you drive, icy roads or other conditions could cause you to get stuck. A tow rope or tow strap can help you to get out easily if someone stops and has a vehicle with good power.

You also should have a collapsible shovel, kitty litter, and a scrap of carpet to help give your drive wheels some traction. You can shovel away thick snow or slush, lay down some kitty litter, and place the carpet remnant in front of a drive wheel to help it gain traction and drive out of a stuck situation.

Items that Help You to Be Seen

If you are stuck or otherwise stranded, you need to make sure other motorists can see you. Emergency flashers certainly can help to make your vehicle visible, but they also can weaken the battery if you are stranded for a while.

Road flares and emergency cones are the best tools for marking your vehicle’s location and helping other drivers to see it and you. One of the most dangerous things to do in a winter storm is to stand outside your vehicle. Reduced visibility from a winter storm at night could make it nearly impossible for another motorist to see you while you try to get your car unstuck. Flares, traffic cones, and your car’s emergency flashers can help make you more visible.

Washer Fluid, Wiper Blades, and an Ice Scraper

People tend to use their wipers and windshield washer fluids more often while driving in wintry weather. The combination of precipitation on the windshield and road spray from other vehicles requires frequent cleaning. The more it snows, the more you need to use the wipers and washer fluid.

Make sure you have an adequate supply of washer fluid containing a deicer. It is a good idea to have an extra container of deicer in the trunk. If the wiper blades are not up to the task, you can mount replacement blades quickly, and that will do a good job of clearing snow, slush, and water off of the windscreen.

You also should carry an ice scraper. One of the longer ones that has a hard plastic scraper on one side and a brush on the other can help you to clear off snow and ice quickly.

Things that Keep You Warm

If you get stuck in the snow and cannot get out, it could take a while before help arrives. Tow trucks tend to be very busy during winter storms. Depending on the time of day or night, you might not be able to contact someone who you know for help.

With potentially several hours of time in a stuck or otherwise stranded vehicle during a winter storm, you need to stay warm. A winter emergency kit should include a blanket or sleeping bag for additional warmth. Keeping an extra warm winter coat can help you to change out of a wet coat into a dry and warm one.

If you intend to idle your vehicle while awaiting help, you need to be cautious of possible carbon monoxide poisoning. The deadly gas is a byproduct of burning gasoline and comes out of the exhaust pipe. If the tailpipe is blocked by snow, the cabin could fill with deadly carbon monoxide poisoning.

If you idle the car for warmth, you need to run it for just a few minutes and turn it off to prevent carbon monoxide buildup and to conserve gas. About five minutes of idling every quarter hour could help to keep the engine and cabin warm. You also need to clear snow accumulation away from the tailpipe to ensure the exhaust flows away from the vehicle and not into the cabin.

Water and Healthful Snacks

If you are going to be stuck for a period, it helps to have clean water and something to snack on inside the vehicle. Although water does freeze, if you keep a bottle in a glove box, the cabin heat can keep it from freezing. A healthful snack such as granola bars, dried fruit, or beef jerky could help to nourish you while awaiting help.

You should keep a first-aid kit in your vehicle and sanitary wipes to clean any wounds that might occur. Winter storms could cause you to slip and fall and suffer cuts or abrasions. So could doing emergency work under the hood while stranded.

Illinois Car Accident Lawyers at The Cates Law Firm, LLC Hold Negligent Drivers Accountable

A negligent driver could cause the best-prepared winter drivers to suffer injuries and property damage. If you were in an accident caused by a negligent motorist, the experienced Illinois car accident lawyers at The Cates Law Firm, LLC can help to build a strong case. Call us today at 618-277-3644 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Swansea, Illinois, we serve clients in St. Louis, Belleville, East St. Louis, Edwardsville, Granite City, Waterloo, Chester, Carbondale, St. Clair County, Madison County, Monroe County, Randolph County, and other regions throughout Southern Illinois.