Driving in snow presents a number of challenges. One of the most daunting is surviving the night if your vehicle gets stuck. There are highway mishaps that may not be your fault, but you will still be affected. Even pulling out of a parking space after a decent amount of snowfall can cause driving problems. Here are nine items to have in your car during nasty winter weather.
1. Jumper Cables: The cold wreaks havoc with car batteries. A slow-starting vehicle can quickly lead to a dead battery. Keep a set of jumper cables in your trunk. Get a set that has a long reach like the set Heavy Duty Booster Cables from Harbor Freight Tools. These cables are 12 feet long since you may not be able to get assisting vehicles close. Use 8-gauge wire and have a built-in battery tester. The MSRP is $16 (harborfreight.com; 800-423-2567)
2. Cell Phone Charger: Your cell phone is your only way to communicate in a snowstorm. You will use it to call a tow truck, your family or emergency services. Have a cell phone charger that plugs into your vehicle’s 12-volt auxiliary power source outlet.
3. Flashlight: Nightstick offers a magnetic flashlight/floodlight so you can go hands-free while jumping a battery or digging out under your tires. You can also recharge it in your car. The MSRP is $85. (mynightstick.com; 800-233-2155)
4. Extra Hats, Gloves & Boots: Many times, we go from our home to our destination without really thinking about standing in the freezing cold. If you break down in your business casual loafers or high heels and the temperature is dipping below zero, having extra winter clothing is a must. Pack a small bag with hats, gloves, mittens and a spare coat. A spare pair of inexpensive rubber boots will help keep your feet dry and warm while your are busy trying to extricate your vehicle.
5. Tow Straps: A tow strap can get your vehicle out of a shallow ditch and back on the road with a little help from another driver. These straps are lightweight and pack up into a compact size. The SmartsStraps Heavy Duty Tow Strap with Hooks from Northern Tool & Equipment is is made of flexible nylon webbing and has a working load of 3,000 pounds. The MSRP is $20. (northerntool.com; 800-221-0516)
6. Spare Fuel Container: Many drivers become stranded because they forgot to fill up their gas tank or thought they had enough to make it home.Keep a small, 2.5-gallon plastic fuel canister like the one from AW Direct in your trunk. The MSRP is $17. (awdirect.com; 800-243-3194)
7. Emergency Blanket: If you vehicle breaks down in cold weather, you may run out of fuel, which means no heat. A general rule of thumb is to have a blanket for each passenger. Coghlan’s Emergency Blanket, which costs only $10, is wind and water proof and will retain your body heat. Wrap yourself in it like an aluminum foil mummy. (coghlans.com; 877-264-4526)
8. Shovel & Kitty Litter: A shovel like the Glock Entrenching Tool is lightweight and compact. You will use this to dig out the snow from under your tires, then adding the kitty litter to provide traction. Sand works, too. The weight of the kitty litter or sand will also give you better traction in the snow. The Entrenching Tool’s MSRP is $50. (us.glock.com; 770-432-1202)
9. Food & Water: Help might not arrive until after the storm. Non-perishable snacks will help tide you over and give you energy. Keep energy and snack bars as well as bottled water inside your vehicle.
This article was originally published in the SURVIVOR’S EDGE™ Spring 2016 issue. Subscription is available in print and digital editions here.