Arkansas winters can be unpredictable, but you can be prepared by keeping a few essentials in your vehicle during the winter months. We’ve put together a list of items you can use if you and your vehicle are involved in a weather-related accident or stranded during a winter storm.
1. Cell Phone Charger
A car charger or a portable power bank for your cell phone is important to keep in your car year-round, but it becomes particularly imperative if you find yourself in need of roadside assistance. Not only will a charged battery allow you to call for help, it will also allow loved ones to find you quickly if you’ve downloaded a location-sharing app on your device.
2. Pen & Pad
This may seem a little basic, but there’s a good chance if you call a roadside assistance or tow truck service, they’ll give you information such as phone numbers that you’ll need to jot down. Or if you get into an accident, this will allow you to easily exchange information with other drivers involved. It could also be used for Tic-Tac-Toe if you’re traveling with kids and going to be waiting a while.
3. First Aid Kit
This is another item that is handy all year long. You can buy a first aid kit or pack one yourself with bandages, adhesive tape, antiseptic wipes, antibiotic ointment, tweezers, latex gloves, scissors, gauze and any toiletries you may need. Based on your needs or the needs of your family, you may also include antihistamines and an epinephrine injector for someone with severe allergies, chewable baby aspirin for someone with coronary artery disease, or a juice box or glucose tablets for a person with diabetes. Just be sure to check expiration dates on any of your first aid kit items regularly.
4. Snow & Ice Tools
There are a lot of items that can help you clear ice or snow from your vehicle including an ice scraper, folding shovel, snow broom. They even make dual-ended tools that serve as all three. Store-bought de-icer can also be sprayed on your windshield, if needed. While these are all great to travel with, it’s also smart to keep an extra set of tools in your home or garage in case your vehicle’s doors are ever frozen shut, keeping you from getting to the ones in your vehicle. (It happens. Trust us.)
5. Reflective Triangles or LED Flashers
If for some reason the emergency flashers on your car aren’t working, put out reflective triangles or LED to flashers to alert oncoming traffic. These could be used if you’re changing a flat, dealing with a dead battery or in a fender-bender. A reflective vest to wear is also a good idea. Always use extreme caution when exiting your vehicle on the side of the road. If visibility is low or conditions aren’t safe enough to walk in, call 911 and wait for help to arrive.
6. Sand or Kitty Litter
The benefits of bags of sand or kitty litter are two-fold. The added weight from the bags in the back of your vehicle will improve traction on slick or slushy roads. If you pour a little around your tires, it will give them something to grip if you ever find yourself stuck.
7. Jumper Cables
Colder temperatures can drain your car battery. Keep jumper cables in your trunk, especially if your battery is older. If you can’t start your car, you can get a jump from a relative, coworker or Good Samaritan.
Whether you’re digging for items in your trunk or fixing something under the hood, a flashlight can help you see better at night. It will also provide a level of safety if you have to walk in the dark to get help.
9. Warm Items like Blankets, Coats, Gloves
Let’s be honest. We don’t all leave the house bundled up appropriately during the winter months, especially if we don’t plan to be outside. But it never hurts to be prepared by keeping a tote with a warm blanket, coat, knit cap or gloves in your car. It’s also safe to keep HotHands Warmers in your car, as long as they are not exposed to extreme temperatures. Keep in mind who will be riding with you and pack extras, if needed. Tight on space? You can buy an inexpensive pocket-sized heat reflective blanket online or at a local outdoor store.
10. Water & Snacks
Parents know packing non-perishable snacks and water is an important part of any road trip, whether it’s across the country or across town. While your chances of being stranded for days are rare, it’s still important to be prepared. Granola or protein bars, jerky, crackers and dried fruit are all examples of foods to keep in an emergency kit. Even if you’re only waiting for a tow truck for a couple hours, a bite to eat may make the wait more comfortable for everyone involved.
Now the hardest part will be finding the perfect bag to fit your style and your trunk for all of these items. You could use a simple travel bag, oversized shopper tote, old book bag or a trunk organizer that comes with a variety of features. Find more tips for preparing and driving in winter weather from the National HIghway Traffic Safety Administration.