BISMARCK, N.D (KXNET) — The winter storm season is coming up fast, but despite the risks, many of us will need to hit the road. When this happens, there is always concern regarding snowstorms — specifically, the fear of being trapped in your vehicle as the roads become too dire to navigate.
While the needs and supplies required by each family trapped in a snowstorm on the road vary, there are a few important pieces of gear listed by groups such as The Red Cross and the Farmer’s Almanac that everyone should carry in their car during a snowstorm (or just in case one happens to arise). Here’s a list of some of the essential types of equipment to make sure you have in your car before hitting the road during the winter months.
Snow Removal — In the event of a deep freeze or emergency situation, it’s important to be able to clear ice from one’s windshield or snow from the ground by hand. Thick snow can stop a car from moving, and ice on the windshield can blind a driver, possibly leading to accidents — the last thing anyone needs in a storm. As such, many organizations recommend packing a strong ice scraper, brush, and snow shovel in your car at all times.
An iced windshield not only makes it more difficult to drive, but can often end up burning one’s time and battery waiting for it to defrost. Bringing an ice scraper is a way to clear out the windshield quickly and efficiently.
Shovels and scrapers can also help to make your car more visible in the event one becomes stranded on the roadside. It’s always handy to carry at least one of each, and especially any possible dual-purpose tools you can find (most ice scrapers, for instance, come with a brush end) — preferably in a reachable area in case you can’t access the trunk of the car.
Tools — Even without taking snow removal into account, there are still plenty of useful tools you can bring to the car in case of emergencies. At times, the cold may take its own toll on your vehicle, and you’ll have to take matters into your own hands to fix it. In addition to a standard toolbox, items like jumper cables and a flashlight are essential parts in any snowstorm survival package.
If your car goes dead, tools like jumper cables (or a charged car generator) can help restart the battery and get back on track. If all else fails, gear like a flashlight can provide much-needed warmth and light to both keep secure and possibly signal passing vehicles. You can also bring extra gear like duct tape, tow straps, or tire chains for more safety and to better protect your car against the storms.
A phone is also an incredibly important tool — serving as a light, a source of information, and can be used to call authorities in an emergency. Be sure to charge your phone fully before leaving in the snow, and bring a car charger (or multiple) in case of emergency.
Gas — Many of us like to wait until the last few miles to fill up our gas tanks- but in a storm, you’d be better off filling up early. Ensure your gas tank is full prior to a snowstorm hitting — if you need to leave the house, it’d be best to get as far away as possible.
Warmth — There are plenty of ways to keep yourself from freezing in the car — but when the temperature settings or heated seats aren’t enough (or worse, break down), you’ll need plenty of other ways to stay warm. Packing extra blankets, sets of clothes, boots, hats, and even matches can help to keep you cozy both on and off the road during winter storms. Matches, in particular, can serve as not only a source of warmth, but a source of light, and much like a flashlight, can also be used to signal passing cars in some occasions.
Road Cleaners — Bring a bag of sand, rock salt, or kitty litter in your drives through snowstorms — while this may seem like an odd addition, these are all well-known ways of removing some of the troubles one might face on the road. Rock salt, sand, and litter all work to de-ice and remove snow from roads as well as increase the friction on the road.
While it doesn’t technically count as a way to disperse snow or ice, a paid of sunglasses is also a helpful tool to bring along: they can reduce the sun glare on snow, and help make it easier to drive.
First Aid — Cold, machinery, and ice can lead to injuries, even within the car. It’s always best to be prepared for these dangerous situations by bringing a medical kit for use on the road.
Snacks — Nobody can do their best work on an empty stomach, but bringing plenty of snacks and water would be more than just an extra bit of road trip fare. Having supplies of food and drink on standby is essential in an emergency, especially if you become stranded on the road.
Ideally, choose bottles of plain water and non-perishable foods to be your snow snacks. Choose dishes that are low in calories, fat and sugar, and high in protein to provide as much energy as possible (such as nuts, granola bars, or dried fruit).
There are plenty of other good tools that one can bring in their vehicle for snowstorms, and we would strongly recommend checking the pages of the Red Cross and Farmer’s Almanac to learn of more handy tools to bring along if you must travel during a winter storm. If you’re looking for how to handle the drive itself, don’t worry: as an office that has been buffered by these storms before, KX can share those strategies too. We’ll have another article regarding safe snow driving tomorrow — look forward to it!