Winter travel safety

Knowing weather and road conditions is important, but having an emergency kit and knowing what to do in an emergency is a matter of life and death.

Traveling can be a means to spending quality time with your family, but when inclement weather strikes, having a safety kit could save your life.

Slippery or snow-covered roads, reduced visibility and bitter cold are all conditions that make driving stressful, difficult and dangerous! Conditions like these could increase the likelihood of getting in an accident or having car trouble. An important rule to always follow is dressing warm in case you end up outside of your car for an extended period of time with cold temperatures due to difficulty.

If you are aware something is not right with your car stay calm and pull over to the side of the road as soon as possible.Your car is a shelter and will keep you dry. Open your window slightly on the side sheltered from the wind. Refrain from keeping your engine started.

If  running the engine is a necessity, make sure your exhaust pipe is not obstructed by snow, so not affected by carbon dioxide. Keep in mind that ceiling lights will not drain a car battery as fast as leaving headlights or emergency flashing lights on. It is also important to keep your blood flowing, so moving your hands, feet and arms to maintain circulation and stay awake is important if you are immobile for a long period of time. While you are stopped, keep an eye out for first responders and other vehicles.

Having a safety kit or emergency equipment in your car is vital. Michigan State University Extension suggests that a basic car kit should contain the following:

  • Food that will not spoil, such as energy bars
  • Water – plastic bottles that will not break if the water freezes (replace every six months)
  • Warm blanket
  • Extra clothing, shoes or boots
  • First aid kit with seatbelt cutter
  • Small shovel, scraper and snowbrush for winter
  • Candle in a deep can and matches
  • Wind-up flashlight
  • Whistle
  • Roadmaps
  • Sand, salt or cat litter (non-clumping)
  • Paper and pencil

Besides these emergency items, every car should also carry:

  • Antifreeze and window washer-fluid
  • Jumper cables
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Warning lights or road flares. 

Hopefully you will never have to use your emergency kit, but if you do, it will keep you safe and comfortable until professional help arrives.

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