12 Life-Saving Items that Prepare You for Roadside Emergencies
If you live in a climate with seasonal snow and ice, you need to know how to handle the roads when conditions get rough. It’s important to know safe driving practices, how your vehicle does in winter weather, and what you need to prepare. A huge piece of that preparation is to equip yourself with an emergency snow kit for the car!
Anybody can end up in an emergency situation, and the right preparation means the difference between life and death. If you slide off the road, run out of gas, get a flat tire, or have an unexpected mechanical problem in a storm, you want to be ready for it. Here are twelve items to keep you ready for those worst-case winter scenarios.
1. Cellphone and Cellphone Car Charger
This one seems obvious, but we can’t stress its importance enough. Yes, most of us carry a cellphone, but sometimes you forget it! Even if you’re only making a short trip out and the weather doesn’t look all that bad, take a second to remember your cellphone.
A cellphone car charger is also essential. Even if the weather and the roads are fine, breaking down on the side of the road in below-freezing temperatures can be dangerous. You always want the option to call for help, and a cellphone won’t be much good to you if it’s dead!
2. Notepad and Pen
If you’re stuck in a ditch and call to get your car towed, you may need to take down some information. Phone numbers, a case number, the license plate and insurance info of someone you’ve gotten into an accident with… you’ll need to write these down. You can write notes on your phone, but it’s easier to write and readily access that information on paper when you’re using your phone to make the call for help.
3. LED Flashlight
Another simple thing you can have on hand that will make your life easier is an LED flashlight. Yes, your cellphone may have a flashlight function, but having a small flashlight (with fully charged batteries) is more helpful. Especially when you’re making a phone call to your family, a towing company, or the police after dark.
Also, a serious flashlight can signal your location to oncoming drivers in a storm. It will help you take down notes, see clearly while you’re installing tire chains, putting on a spare tire, or taking a look under the hood. Sometimes, a headlamp is an even more effective option, freeing up both your hands.
4. Jumper Cables
If you need a jump-start, you’re much better off having your own cables than waiting for someone else to come along. Being ready with your own jumper cables will help get you safely back on the road as soon as possible.
Check out these jumper cables available on Amazon. Also, if you’ve never used them before, this video explains the simple process for jump-starting a vehicle. In addition, be prepared to help others on the road, too.
If you don’t want to wait for another car, you should invest in a jump starter. They work like jumper cables, but they’re attached to a battery you can charge at home rather than another car!
5. Gloves, Hat, Socks, and Blankets
Cold weather can be dangerous. When you’re waiting for help to arrive, you need to make an effort to stay warm. In a roadside emergency in the winter, it’s your most important survival need. No emergency snow kit for the car is complete without a blanket or two, a pair of gloves, some thick socks, and a warm hat.
If you often travel with others in your vehicle, it’s a good idea to prepare for an emergency with them in mind too. The temperature will drop pretty quickly if you’re stranded in the car without heat, so a blanket is an effective solution that can keep you and all your passengers warm at the same time.
It’s also good to prepare for situations outside of the vehicle. Installing snow chains, for instance, is much easier with a pair of sturdy, high-quality work gloves. Keep a pair of gloves that aren’t just warm, but thick, water-proof, and well-insulated.
6. First Aid Kit
This is something you should have access to in any situation, and a roadside winter emergency is no different. A minor injury can complicate an emergency situation. Getting that taken care of can make a world of difference, helping you to keep your energy up and remain focused until the situation is resolved.
Here are some first aid kits on Amazon to browse through for your emergency snow kit.
7. Snow Brush/Ice Scraper
If you have to deal with winter driving, you most likely already own some kind of ice scraper and/or snow brush. Unless your car is almost always parked somewhere with a roof over its head, this is a necessary tool for the season. But not everyone keeps their snow brush or ice scraper inside their vehicle.
If you’re stuck and the snow is coming down heavily, it will accumulate faster than expected. Scraping off the ice and clearing off the snow is a matter of safety. Keep your visibility as clear as possible.
Take a look at these brushes and scrapers available on Amazon.
8. Sand/Kitty Litter/Safety Absorbent
Whether it’s sand, kitty litter, or safety absorbent, a bag of one of these can help provide much-needed traction for your tires. Safety absorbent is used to absorb grease, oil, etc. from floors before sweeping. This is probably the most effective option here. But the principle is the same for a bag of sand or kitty litter. Dumping any of these in front of your driving wheels adds a grainer texture to a slick surface, which gives your tires more grip.
9. Portable Shovel
Another tool to help get unstuck is a portable shovel. There are compact, foldable shovels (here are some examples sold on Amazon) that you can easily fit in your trunk. If you need to dig some snow out of the way of your tires, a shovel is a total game-changer. Getting in there with your hands can waste a lot of valuable energy without much progress to show for it.
10. Tire Chains
Tire chains are a good resource to have on hand when you’re out on the road and it is starting to feel unsafe. Installing tire chains can drastically improve your traction on the road. Just make sure you know how to use them properly! That way you aren’t putting them on your tires for the first time in an emergency situation.
If you’ve never used tire chains before, we’ve got you covered!
11. Road Flares
An emergency snow kit for the car should also include some road flares. When you’re stranded on the side of the road in a storm, you need to be visible for oncoming cars. This is as much for your safety as it is for everyone passing your way. As with tire chains, road flares should be handled carefully. And they should be used in accordance with the set of instructions in their packaging.
Here are some road flares available to buy on Amazon.
12. Snacks and Bottled Water
Last but not least, keep some snacks packed in the emergency snow kit for the car. You want simple, non-perishable foods that provide energy. Granola or protein bars, unsalted nuts, dried fruit, and even candy bars are all good options to have on hand. Bottled water is also a good idea to bring along when you know you’ll be venturing out into inclement weather.
Keep an Emergency Snow Kit for the Car Ready Just in Case
If we lived in a perfect world, you’d never be in a situation where you need an emergency kit. But as much as we love the beautiful, lush nature of the PNW, the flipside is that we sometimes get rather inclement weather. It’s your duty to yourself, your passengers, and other drivers on the road to practice safe driving habits.
Prepare yourself for a harsh winter, keep an emergency snow kit for the car. Of course, safe driving is the best way to prepare, but even the most experienced drivers can’t predict the weather. Take your time- your safety will always be more important than your timeliness.