Surviving Winter Driving
The weather is one of the most unpredictable facets of our daily lives. If there is one thing we can bet on, it is that weather is always changing, especially in the winter months. This means that our daily drives may become hazardous without much warning. For the most part, experienced drivers can navigate slippery conditions, but mishaps can occur no matter how careful we are. In the winter months with falling temperatures, a minor issue like getting stuck or sliding off the road can quickly become life-threatening. The best way to avoid participating in an unfortunate situation is by being prepared for whatever Mother Nature may have up her sleeve.
The Federal Highway Commission, (https://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/weather), recognizes that 70 percent of the U.S. population lives in areas that receive 5 inches of freezing precipitation each year. Many of today’s vehicles are well equipped to handle adverse road conditions, but even the best designed can fall short from time to time. In the instance that the worst-case scenario plays out, the Highway Administration recommends that the way to avoid an accident or malfunction from becoming a tragedy is to carry a winter emergency car survival kit. The kit is easy to put together and is made up of relatively inexpensive items. There are two specific areas the emergency kit should support. The first side should ensure vehicle operation, and the second side should provide driver provisions that will ensure safety until help can arrive.
Ensuring that your car or truck is road ready is very important. This means that you should check all your fluid levels under the hood as well as tire pressure all the way around. When it comes to mechanical aspects, winter conditions can cause difficulties. This makes the need for part of your emergency supplies to address unforeseen vehicle issues. It should be stocked with the following items. First is a set of jumper cables. Winter’s fluctuating temperatures can cause even newer auto batteries to lose charge and leave you stranded. You should also have Road flares or a reflective triangle to warn other drivers that your car is broken down as well as a collapsible shovel to remove snow from around tires. It is also crucial to have Something for traction such as a small bag of cat litter. A nylon tow strap could also come in handy if towing without a professional service becomes available. You should have a flashlight with extra batteries so that you have light to identify the issues or to signal others on the highway as well as a roll of duct tape which can be used for minor repairs. Finally, a stranded motorist should never be without a good pocket knife or multitool. This concludes the vehicle related inventory for survival.
No one ever envisions themselves getting stuck. But if you do, especially in freezing temperatures, most police agencies suggest you should stay within your vehicle. The driver provisions element of your emergency kit will help with that. You should include nonperishable, high energy foods such as granola or pre-packaged snack items to keep your energy up in case you may have to walk. Another necessity is a spare phone charger or even a solar phone charger if you live in a less densely populated area. Bottled water is necessary to stay hydrated should it be a long wait. Make sure you have a first aid kit (band-aides, adhesive tape, antiseptic wipes, gauze pads, antiseptic cream) to treat any injures that occur. In addition, pack Blankets or a sleeping bag should you be unable to run your vehicle’s engine along with an extra pair of dry gloves with an insulated hat, so you ensure best body heat retention. To finish up, a disposable rain poncho will not only keep you dry but can be used to cover broken windows and block out cold winds. Hand warmers are also a great optional item that can help to maintain body temperature while you are waiting for assistance. Your kit can include more provisions, but having these essential survival aids will ensure that you stay safe and warm while you wait by your vehicle for help to arrive.
Once all the parts of your emergency kit are assembled, travel experts from various sites suggest that you store the emergency provisions inside a clear container so that they are easy to locate in their time of need. It is also noted that the kit itself should be carried in the vehicle behind the driver’s seat in case the trunk should be damaged and un-openable. By keeping these essential provisions at the ready, you will increase your chances of staying safe in a winter vehicle emergency.
With the extreme cold spells sweeping the nation, the road conditions can quickly become unmanageable for the most experienced driver. The Federal Highway Administration reports that almost 22% of all traffic accidents occur during weather related conditions. These conditions can leave drivers stranded and include situations such as dead batteries caused by extreme cold to slipping off the highway due to black ice. With our busy lives, we still must venture out during these less than desirable winter conditions, but by being prepared, a driver can avoid becoming a statistic. A winter emergency car survival kit will ensure that no matter the situation this winter, you can stay safe and be ready for whatever unexpected circumstance the winter season dishes out. Driving carefully and driving prepared will ensure that you make it to your destination safely.