During the second week of January 2020, officers from the Iowa State Patrol responded to more than 100 road traffic accidents in a 12-hour period in the midst of a winter storm that rolled through the Midwest. Most of the situations handled by the state troopers were car crashes; however, nearly 60 of the more than 100 calls involved other types of emergencies. In Illinois, highway safety officials reminded drivers that sliding into a ditch and getting stranded during a snowstorm is something that can happen to anyone regardless of their vehicle model or driving experience.
In North America, winter driving tips start being published online soon as temperatures begin falling. As this car expert suggests, getting ready for winter should involve more than installing the right tires and checking your antifreeze levels. When preparing for winter, you should expect the worst-case scenario, which is becoming stranded in a spot where help will not be coming for a while. A smart move in this regard would be to pack an emergency kit, which for winter driving conditions will be different than what you may be used to.
Don’t worry too much about tools because it is unlikely that you will be able to use them in the middle of a storm. Jumper cables are standard, but you will want to augment them with an emergency starter pack if possible. A good item to include would be tire chains as well as a box of kitty litter in case your car needs to get traction. An extra smartphone charger is also a good idea; keep in mind that emergency car starters often feature this functionality.
Bottled water and snacks are also standard emergency kit items, but you want to make sure that you are packing the right nourishment. Think about your passengers and include a few protein bars that are very high in calories. Over-the-counter pain medications are always recommended; moreover, you should never get on the road without your prescription meds. Winter gloves, caps, and emergency blankets are nice to have in case you have to wait for help to arrive.
As for signaling devices, don’t forget about flares and a flashlight with extra batteries. Some drivers like to be extra careful and include a cheap prepaid smartphone in their kits; while this is a good idea, be sure to check the status of the battery level and SIM service before going on long trips. Do not rely on smartphones for your emergency contact numbers: Write them down on paper and pack some cash as well.
Finally, try to let your loved ones know that you will be on the road when climate conditions worsen. Give them an idea of where you will be at certain times so that they can check up on your safety status should a bad storm come up without warning. Try to put your kit together early in the season, and don’t forget to check on the water bottles, snacks, medications, and batteries from time to time.