Just last week I was on my way to the local ski resort and BAM, black ice. Growing up in a winter state, I’ve always been aware of black ice, but never experienced it. Shocking and scary, plus you can find yourself stranded in cold, wet temperatures with often extended rescue times. Let’s take a quick look at what you should keep in your car for those dreaded “just in case” moments for the upcoming winter months.
Jacket, Hat, Gloves
I always keep these things in my car. Yes, I am normally wearing them as well, but just as a safety precaution, it’s nice to have an extra set in your car. We’ve all walked out the door and forgotten our gloves or our hat and said “meh, it’s a quick trip” well, that quick trip can turn into a long sit after a wild spinout.
Tall, Waterproof Boots
A decent pair of waterproof boots is a must-have at all times in the snow. Your feet get cold and stay cold faster than almost any other part of your body, so it’s important you be prepared in case you need to trudge through a snowy median. Grab that old pair of Gore-Tex hiking boots, or your favorite pair of Sorel Boots and keep them in the trunk for a little added protection.
Blanket or Sleeping Bag
Again, just toss it in your trunk. Something made of wool, fleece, PrimaLoft, polyester, or down will work just fine. It needs to be big enough to wrap yourself in but not too big to occupy your entire cargo space. I prefer something insulated because they usually have a nylon exterior. This is beneficial because in the event you cannot wait in your car it can give you some protection from the wind as you wrap it around yourself. Plus, they pack smaller and are generally a little warmer.
A Bag of Rock Salt & a Shovel
There are 1,000 tricks for getting yourself out of a snowbank. Some use sand, some use floor mats, others use shovels but I use salt. Now, don’t go out and buy the driveway-clearing $25 for 20lbs ice specific salt, go buy rock salt for $3.50 per 40lbs. Driveway salt is great for your driveway, it melts, it dissolves and it disappears, but it’s also expensive. The rock salt is great because hopefully you’ll never use it and you won’t mind wasting the $3.50. What I particularly like about the salt is that it helps break down the snow, so not only do you receive traction, but it also helps when dealing with ice. Use the shovel to dig yourself out if needed.
Snacks, First Aid & Emergency Roadside Kit
This is purely for looking out for yourself. Snacks give you energy and they don’t take up much space. If you’re getting cold and you haven’t eaten in a while, crush a quick cliff bar or a handful of trail mix for some fast burning energy that will help keep you warm. A first aid kit should be fairly self-explanatory and it doesn’t need to be complex. Pick up some extra gauze pads and hand warmers just for good measure. The Roadside Kit should be pretty explanatory too. Make sure it includes jumper cables, a reflective hazard marker, some flairs and a flashlight.