Let's face it. Winter is coming and driving will be more dangerous. Being prepared to deal with emergency situations is a must, but what to do? You can only fit so many preparedness items in your car before you start dipping into people space. To help you out, I asked for some hints from the fine people at Advance Auto Parts. They have some suggestions for winter “must have” items to keep in your car. Following are the top four. There is a range of choices with each, so choose the one that best suits your situation. These will keep you safer if you become stranded out in the cold, should something happen to your vehicle during the winter.
1. First Aid Kit
Even though most people think of them as an auto parts supplier, Advance recommends keeping a first aid kit handy, particularly in winter. Should you become involved in an accident, you can use the kit to help bandage minor wounds, scrapes, and cuts until emergency services arrive. The American Automobile Association (AAA) offers a nice 8- piece kit. It's lightweight, compact, and easy to store. They also make a 121-piece kit that costs just a few dollars more. Medique also makes a great kit that's perfectly suited to storing in your vehicle. It was designed with OSHA specifications in mind so it will definitely have what you need.
2. Jumper Cables
Our local store manager Brian says these can be an absolute lifesaver. He recommends you keep them handy so they can be grabbed quickly when needed. Also, be leery of any jumper system that uses your internal cigarette lighter as a power source. Most of these have to be charged ahead of time and can sometimes lose the charge if they're not used. Nothing beats a great set of standard jumper cables. Accusafe makes a great pair that comes in a 12' length. The positive and negative cables are easily identified. If you need something a bit longer, it might be worthwhile to invest in a set of cables made by Wilmar. They are 20' in length. This is helpful if you drive a truck or SUV that sits higher off the ground than a standard vehicle.
3. Ice Scraper
This can come in handy on more than a few occasions; the trick is simply keeping it close. Think about all of the times that winter caught you off guard last year. You left the house and everything was nice and clear. However, when you left work for the day, your car was covered in ice, and your ice scraper was tucked neatly inside your glove compartment. Irony won. To prevent that, Advance recommends you keep an ice scraper on your person or at your place of work. The Hopkins 10-inch bear claw will fit nicely in your purse or desk drawer. For something a bit more substantial, try the 580-EP. It's also made by Hopkins and features a telescoping pole with a blade that's built for heavy-duty use. It also has a broom on the end so you can brush off every last bit of ice before you get moving.
It may not happen, but winter always carries the potential for your vehicle to drift off the road and end up hood-deep in a snowbank. Should that happen, a snow shovel will be your best friend. Oskar makes a great multi-function snow shovel. You can easily toss it into your trunk for storage. The Zeus snow shovel by Quirky is great for a few reasons. I's compact, lightweight, and features a brush for removing snow from other parts of your vehicle if need be.
Sand or kitty litter. That's right, they recommend you keep a couple of bags of sand or kitty litter in the trunk or rear compartment of your vehicle. Should you slide off the road and need to regain traction, this will help dramatically. Also, the extra weight will give you increased traction. That's always a good thing, since roads can get slippery or have uneven traction due to slick spots.
Keeping these items on your person or in your vehicle will help you keep winter at bay. They can take situations that have the potential to be disastrous and turn them into minor inconveniences. After all, the weather outside is going to turn frightful. That doesn't mean your driving has to, though. The better prepared you are for driving during the winter months, the better off you will be.