Tuesday, January 21, 2014

14 Basic Things to Have in Your Car in Winter Part 1

Growing up near the Cleveland snow belt on Lake Erie has its advantages. Starting with the first snowfall of the year, the local weather people constantly remind you what emergency items to carry in your car for winter in case you got stuck in the snow (or more likely, get stuck in the mud after the snow melts.)

Prompted by the latest snow storm and my car accident last week, I’m spreading the word on what to have your car during winter snow emergencies.

14thingstocarryinyourcarforemergency


You probably already have most of the items on the list. The basic items don’t cost a ton of money and are things you can use year round. I’ll do a Part 2 later this week with the more advanced/prepared items for winter driving. If I don’t this post will be way too long!

14 Things to Carry in Your Car for Snow Emergencies


Most of the items in Part 1 live in our car full time because they are useful to carry in the car in summer and winter. This is not a list supplies to get you through any type of doomsday scenario. This list is to help you prep for run of the mill accidents and emergency repairs when you are away from home.

1. Ice and snow scraper – Kinda a given. I like the ice scrapers that also have a brush to brush the snow away so you can see where to scrap the ice.



Long ice scrapers like this 26" Snow Brush (get more info here) help a shorty like me brush off my windshield without needing to dance around the car to reach everything. 

2. Spare tire or fix a flat (or both,) jack, and lug nut wrench – This probably came with your car. The moment you are tempted to make room in your car trunk for stuff during a shopping trip, is the trip a pothole will take a chunk out of your tire in a parking lot. (Not that I know anything about this.)



 Fix A Flat Tire Inflator is my version of roadside tire insurance.

3. Owner’s manual – Again, it probably came with your car. It is best to keep it in the glove box just in case. If nothing else, it will give you scintillating reading material if you have to kill time waiting for a tow truck.
4. 1/2 tank of gas minimum – If you have any less in your gas tank it may freeze in cold weather and creates water in your gas tank when it thaws.

5. Blanket – You can use it to keep warm while you are waiting for help, toss it over your head to keep dry(ish) if it is raining or snowing, and keep your car seats clean from wet or muddy kids and dogs. I keep a blank in the trunk year round because you never know when warm sunshine and an impromptu picnic may call your name.

My car blanket is similar to the Picnic Time English Plaid Outdoor Blanket Tote shown here except mine didn't come with a tote bag to keep it clean in my trunk. I wish mine did.

6. Jumper cables – I can’t tell you how many times, my jumper cables have not only come to my rescue but also made me a hero to someone else in need. I carry jumper cables in my car year round too.

If you need to buy jumper cables (some call them booster cables) I suggest you buy the best quality you can afford given what they need to do and get longest you can find like the AAA 4326AAA Heavy Duty 16' 6 Gauge Booster Cable shown here.

 
7. Road flares/reflectors -They are good to have on hand if you need to alert other drivers where your car is on a dark side of the road while you are changing a tire, waiting for a tow truck, etc.


Personally I like the reflectors because you can see them well during the day and night, they don’t go bad,  or eventually run out like flares. I wish my reflectors folded for storage like the example Safety Triangle Emergency Blanket Kit shown here. PS: You can buy the reflectors on Amazon and it comes with 2 Mylar blankets if you need a car blanket too (we stuck a couple we got from Husband’s 10K races in our trunk just in case.)

8. Flashlight – In case you need to see in the dark! To keep the batteries from going dead before you need to use them (ahem,) store the batteries in reverse order or out of the flash light altogether. Better yet, put a crank flashlight in your emergency car kit. No batteries needed!

This isn’t the biggest, baddest, or heavy dutyist (yes that is a word. I just made it up) but I have a bunch of Energizer Weatheready 3-LED Carabineer Rechargeable Crank flash lights stashed in the house and in our cars like this one because they are cheap and useful. I’m the Queen of Dead  Batteries I Forgot to Recharge or Replace Before I Need Them. *royal wave*

9. Cell phone & charger – I am so glad I could call 911 after my accident last week.  I also used it to take photos of the scene the damage on my car, and the cars that hit me last week. If you don’t want to deal with cell phone contracts and fees, pop a prepaid cell phone in your glove box or ask someone for their old cell phone and charger.


Even a deactivated cell phone like this one can make a 911 call if it can get a signal. 

10. Pen and paper – Hopefully you will be using to play tic tack toe to pass the time while you are waiting for roadside assistance instead of using them to exchange insurance information after an accident.

11. Umbrella and/or rain poncho – It is a nice thing to have in car when it expectantly rains,snows, or slushes (not quite snow but not quite rain either.)



I suggest going with a better quality rain poncho like the Totes Rain Poncho shown here (fun fact: Made in the USA!) over the cheap and thin rain ponchos you can’t fold back up and put into the little baggie no matter what the instructions say and you end up tossing it after one use if you don’t poke a hole in it first. 

12. Roadside assistance membership - AAA, On Star, through your car brand etc. – I’m partial to AAA because I’ve had it since I first got my driver’s license but go with whatever company works best for you. Anytime when I’ve thought about cancelling it because I haven’t used it in awhile, I end up needing it. My plan is to keep paying for my membership so I’ll never have car troubles again! Hey, a girl can dream can’t she?

13. First aid kit – This can be as simple or elaborate as you like. If nothing else it is nice to at least have a few band aids in the glove box in case you accidently cut yourself. Make sure you put an Epi pen or any emergency medication you made need if you or your family has a related medical condition beyond the usual bump, cuts, and sprains.


I like the Adventure Medical Kits Adventure First Aid kit shown here because it is a good basic first aid kit that fits in a glove box. It is stocked for any basic injuries Husband may have on the running trail: sprains, fractures, cuts, scrapes, or what Lacey and I may experience when we are playing in the park. Yep. I’m that crazy dog lady who makes sure I have gauze and tape on hand in case my dog cuts her paw. I also have info on the local 24 hour Vet Emergency Room in there too. 

14. Work gloves – Because sometimes changing a tire or a doing a simple roadside repair can get messy and that will only happen when you are dressed up for a big meeting or nice event. You can go as cheap or expensive as you want with the work gloves.


Since we can never have too many work gloves, I bought a set of Cowhide Leather Palm Gloves from Amazon because they come in a five pair pack. We stashed two pairs in each car. The fifth pair is with the rest of the one handed “sets” of gardening gloves in the garage. 


I came into our marriage with a cobbled together DIY version of a car emergency kit that still lives in the trunk of my car. When I realized Husband didn’t any any of these supplies in his car (especially since this is the car we usually use when we drive several hours to visit our parents) we bought a pre made kit to live in his car trunk. Our car emergency kit is discontinued. The one that is the most similar  to our is the Bell Automotive Roadside Emergency Kit. 



This kit includes jumper cables,  tire sealant, a  flashlight, cable ties, help sign, gloves, tie down, a space blanket, 2-in-1 screwdriver, rain poncho, an accident document guide, and some first aid supplies. Best of all it is compact and doesn't take up too much room in our small car trunk.

What do you carry in your car in case of an emergency? Check out Part Two of this post:

13 More Things to Have in Your Car in Winter Part 2: The Advanced Snow Emergency List





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