A lot of people will drive across the United States for Thanksgiving or Christmas. Unfortunately, many of these people are unaware of important winter travel safety tips. It definitely does not surprise me either; after all, we live in a society where people do not care to wear a seat belt. To help you stay safe on the road, we have made a handy winter preparedness checklist in case you become stuck.
Food and water
This is a given. If you are stuck on the side of the road, you do not want to have to worry about going long without these essentials. You should definitely make sure to keep your car stocked with non-perishable foods. You should also keep these in an insulated container or wrapped in a warm blanket in your vehicle. For water, if your water does freeze, you can do things such as use hand warmers to melt the ice.
Warm coverings often make the difference between living and dying if you are stuck. Make sure that you pack a lot of blankets; at least a couple per person should do it. They are not expensive either, so there is not much of an excuse. You should also pack extra changes of clothing. This allows you to be somewhat dressed down and dress up when needed. If you intend to keep your car running for heat, STOP. So long as you have the appropriate coverings, you should be gravy. Running your vehicle while idling is dangerous, as it may cause carbon monoxide poisoning.
This is less an essential thing and more just something nice to keep everyone occupied. Handheld game consoles, tablets, music players, books, card games, etc. These will help distract everyone from the situation, especially the kiddos.
Gasoline will not help once your car is stuck, but it can at least reduce the chances that you get stuck on empty.
First aid and emergency kits
This category casts a pretty wide net that covers a pretty wide net, including:
1. Wind-up flashlight – Battery-free, allowing you to have decent visibility without running out of energy.
2. Bandages and gauze – Self-explanatory; something for if you or someone else becomes injured. Dealing with an injury on a winter travel is not ideal, but it is necessary for safety and liability reasons.
3. Radio – Radios are an essential tool, providing valuable information about the weather. In general, keeping up to date with the weather on your car radio is a good idea in and of itself.
4. Cough and stomach medicine – Something to help if someone is dealing with a cold or an upset stomach. You definitely do not want someone to throw up in the car while you are trying to stay warm!
Check your car
This is not so much something to bring as something to do. The last thing you want to find out is that you have a broken headlight. Not only might it put you at risk of a traffic collision, it may also put you at legal risk. Other things you should keep an eye out for are:
1. Heating system – Having a busted heating system is a bad idea for a million different reasons. Don’t do that!!
2. Engine – Even worse than a busted heating system is dealing with a busted engine. If ever there was something that would get you stuck, it would be that.
3. Wiper blades – Make sure that you keep your wiper blades’ fluids and antifreeze well-stocked. You would hardly want to see these freeze over and be unable to clear your front window of the flurries!
4. Tires – Tires are paramount to driving (duh), but good tires even more so in the winter. If you want to be safest, make sure to consider getting specialty snow tires.
Ways to get out
Just because you get stuck does not mean that you have to accept your fate – there are plenty of ways out! The most obvious one would be something that catches the eye, like a road flare. If your tires are stuck in the snow, non-clumping cat litter does wonders, as it creates traction. If your engine just will not start but you have a good Samaritan on hand, jumper cables are a necessity.