Winter is an important time to be prepared – especially when driving. You can’t predict what will happen if you’re forced out onto the icy and snowy roads, and where I live, the last two winters have been unusually snowy.
If I learnt anything last year, it was realising how unprepared I would be if I were to ever have car trouble in the winter – especially stuck in a snowy blizzard!
Each year there are tales of motorists stuck for hours, trapped inside their car, with some even having to spend the night before being rescued. After the blizzard in January 2003 one motorist shared his story:
“I left work in London at 3.30pm, and finally got home in Haverhill at 11.30am the following morning”
The headlines say “Snow Chaos” “Lethal Blizzard Conditions” and yet some still decide to head out.Photo courtesy of Iain Cutherbertson
So after procrastinating for years, I’ve finally put together my own personal winter car survival kit. Take a look as I believe these are the items every motorist should have stashed away in their boot in case the worst happens and you get caught in a sudden deluge:
- First Aid Kit – plasters & pain killers
- Flares or reflective triangle
- Spare change – always comes in handy
- Basic tools – screwdriver, wrench
- Jump-start cables – checked your battery recently?
Also make sure that you have adequate car insurance plus breakdown cover and remember to keep the number of the breakdown in your car. It’s a great idea to get yourself a mobile phone charger that can use your cigarette lighter.
I always thought that if my car got stuck in heavy snow, all I would need is my mobile phone. Sounds stupid yes? But how many of you reading this have more than one of those items on my list, let alone stored in your car?
Try and imagine what it would be like stuck bumper to bumper on a motorway for over 6 hours, without a service station for miles, slowly watching the snow rise up over your wheels – I’ve been there and it’s not a nice situation to be in.
In addition to the bits and pieces suggested above, I also keep a sleeping bag in the boot – you never know when it might come in handy!
From personal experience, a good set of snow tyres is essential to safe winter driving. Make sure your tyres are properly aligned, and also check the tyre tread. If you are unfortunate enough to own a rear wheel drive car (like I do), I’d consider buying a set of all-season tyres or winter tyres with decent traction in or to get better grip of the road when driving in the snow.Photo courtesy of OregonDOT
Before you set off, it’s always a good idea to check out the weather. The last thing you want is to be stuck in a snow storm. I also recommend taking a look at the Met Office for accurate up to date weather forecasts local to you.
If you’ve found this information useful and want to read more on this subject, then I recommend taking a look at these additional resource guides:
- Winter driving advice from the AA
- BBC’s Guide to driving safely in winter weather conditions
- Winter driving from Directgov
Can you suggest anything else to add to my survival list? Or perhaps have a story or two about being stuck in last year’s snow? Let’s hear about it in the comments.