It’s always a good idea to be prepared before winter driving season arrives. Doing a road trip during the winter months, especially through areas with inclement weather can be a hazardous prospect—I know this all to well after hitting black ice and spinning out of control in sub-zero temperatures while driving through Montana last year (read about it). Fortunately, I was well prepared, and so can you by heeding the following suggestions.
Before you depart on a winter driving road trip, be sure to put together an emergency kit that consists of the following:
- Water – For drinking and cleaning. Your windshield can often become dirty beyond the capabilities of your wipers.
- Ice scraper – Snow and ice can really accumulate on a vehicle and windows, rendering wiper blades useless. Often the side and back windows will require clearing to see properly.
- Flares, matches/lighter/candle, fire starter – In case you get stuck, you want to be able to start a fire to not only keep warm, but to possibly signal for help.
- MRE’s and nutritional bars – If you do breakdown, it could be in an isolated area and could possibly be days before you’re discovered. Always a good idea to have extra food on hand.
- Small tool kit including multi-purpose knife – Sometimes a breakdown can be easily fixed if you have the proper tools. It’s always a good idea to have a basic kit, such as a pair of pliers, screwdrivers, hammer, rope, duct tape, etc.
- Blanket, warm gloves/hat/ski jacket/pants – You might have to change a tire or get under the vehicle, it’s a good idea to have water repellent clothing to keep you dry.
- Windshield wiper fluid (below zero grade) – This is very important…I learned that there are two types of windshield washer fluid…one will freeze and rendering your wipers useless. Make sure to fill your reservoir up with the below zero grade and have extra on hand. You will use a lot of wiper fluid during the winter months.
- Survival items – Whistle, rope, bright colored tarp, flashlight with extra batteries, duct tape, tow strap, tire chains, jumper cables and a can of fix-a-flat.
If you have the extra space, here are a few additional items to include:
- Foldable shovel.
- Portable air compressor.
- Bag of cat litter or rock salt for traction in case you get stuck.
- Never use warm water on your windshield.
- Never use cruise control in below freezing temps.
- Always double check the condition of your spare tire.
If you’re cautious and prepared, winter driving can be quite safe. Winter road trips are quite spectacular as the journey has an entirely different look and feel. Enjoy.
Safe travels on your next Winter Driving Road Trip.