Fall is here, which means winter is right around the corner. If you live in a part of the country that experiences snow and extremely cold conditions, then it's time to start prepping your car for the colder months ahead. The obvious things to do include installing snow tires, ensuring your car is mechanically sound, and flushing your coolant system with fresh antifreeze. But have you given any thought to what you should carry inside your car? If not, you should – it could save your life in an emergency and make your day-to-day routine easier. Here are some items you should always have in your car during winter:
A basic first-aid kit should be carried in your vehicle year-round. Items that can be considered first-aid essentials include adhesive tape, bandages and gauze, scissors and tweezers, antiseptic and antibiotic ointments and solutions, cotton swabs, gloves, and large pads. A first-aid kit can stop bleeding and provide sufficient medical aid until assistance arrives, and should always be available.
Car batteries do not like cold weather. Having a set of jumper cables in your car is a good idea during the winter, as it can help prevent you from becoming stranded in cold, dangerous weather. If you are using jumper cables, be sure to follow the correct jumping procedure: connect your positive terminal to their positive terminal, and their negative terminal to your ground.
Driving in the winter means that the sun is down low on the horizon for much of the day. A pair of sunglasses can mean the difference between being able to see and not being able to see – it really is that simple. Throw a pair of sunglasses in your glove compartment so that you always have a pair on hand. Companies like Ray-Ban have a diverse selection of frames and lenses to choose from, including polarized lenses.
Dried Foods & Water
If your car breaks down, you get stuck in the snow, or your car slides off of the road, it may be some time before help arrives (particularly depending on where you live). Keep dried foods and bottled water in your car at all times just in case. When it comes to your health, it's better to be safe than sorry. And if you're worried about the water freezing, consider insulating it by storing it in a thermos or cooler.
Anyone who lives in a cold climate already knows the value of an ice scraper. The benefits and uses of this item in wintertime are somewhat self-evident. Nonetheless, if you don't have one, are looking to replace a broken one, or recently moved to a cold climate, it's worth repeating: pack an ice scraper. They come in all shapes and sizes.
You may not think that you need a flashlight in your car because your smartphone has one. However, it's worth noting that in an emergency, you should conserve your phone's battery life. Additionally, a dedicated flashlight will yield far more lumen power than the light on your phone. Throw a small LED flashlight in your glove box for peace of mind.
Keeping an emergency shovel in your car can mean the difference between digging your car out of a snow ditch in a matter of minutes or a matter of hours. Find one that is extendable, making it easy to fit in your trunk. If your car should become stuck, you definitely do not want to rely on your hands to dig yourself out. You will quickly tire out, and could become dangerously cold and wet in the process. Humans invented tools for a reason, so why not use them? A shovel is your friend!
Extra Winter Clothes & Blankets
Always keep extra clothes and blankets in the car during winter. An unheated car can become very cold, very quickly; the metal and glass that make up your car's shell offer little insulation from the outside cold. If your car breaks down or you become stuck, you may be forced to wait in your car for several hours without heat. Blankets and extra clothing can help keep you warm until help arrives.
Road flares or road triangles can alert other motorists to your stricken vehicle, which is safer both for them and for you. Flares can also be seen a great distance at night and may help emergency responders or tow truck drivers find your vehicle should you be stuck or stranded on a lightly traveled road.
Cell Phone Charger
If your car dies and your cell phone dies, what are you going to do? You won't have any means of charging your phone, which means you won't be able to contact help. To prevent this from happening to you, pack a wireless cell phone charger in your car. These chargers are essentially battery packs that can be pre-charged at home; you can then plug your phone into the charger and siphon off stored electrical power.
A wind-up weather radio can come in handy if your car breaks down or you slide off the side of the road due to slick conditions. Many also come equipped with flashlights and other accessories, making them something of a modern Swiss army knife. Some wind-up radios even come with morse code beacons and high-pitched sirens to alerts rescuers of your location.