The recent viral video (above) of a car owner using a sled for a spare tire during a snow storm can either be described as pure genius or downright insanity. Seriously, it could go either way.
No matter which way the judgment scales tip in the case of the – illegal? Yes? No? – sledding car, the video brings up the good point that many people don’t properly pack their vehicles for winter weather. Just throwing a protein bar into the glove compartment won’t cut it when faced with a wall of snow and using a credit card for a snow scraper won’t help dig out your tires– although it will garner a stern look from your bank when you later tell them why it broke.
So in the spirit of sledding cars everywhere, below is a small list of essentials to help your car and you make it through old man winter’s northerly winds the smart and safe way.
Thermal emergency blanket. Although not the first item on many winter checklists – admittedly it doesn’t help much with car repairs – having an emergency blanket on hand can mean the difference between freezing and staying warm until help arrives during a snow storm. They are relatively inexpensive online and usually packaged as a set of two or more. They also fold flat for easy storage, such as underneath a seat.
Matches. There are other fire starter options out on the market as well, but a box of matches will do the job if a fire – started safely away from a vehicle with wood – ever proves necessary during a winter car emergency.
Extra gloves/hat/socks. The body’s extremities are extremely prone to frostbite. If any item that covers them gets wet while out in the snow it’s a good idea to change into a spare set.
Car Repair Items
A spare tire AND a tire jack AND a tire iron. Without a tire jack to lift a vehicle – or a really strong friend who’s willing to brave the snowstorm to help – and a tire iron to loosen the bolts, a spare tire is as good as useless. Good things come in threes and as is the case here, you will need all three items to help you change a tire during an emergency.
Carpet remnants. Although kitty litter is great for getting traction while on ice or stuck in deep snow, carpet remnants placed next to tires can create just as much friction. Bonus: they weigh much less than litter and don’t leave a mess.
Jumper cables. Cold temperatures are hard on batteries and jumper cables can save you a long wait in the cold while a friend or family member drives to the rescue. They also tend to be the Good Samaritan item to have in your car for helping others who find themselves with a dead battery.
A Gas Can. Theoretically, a car’s gas tank should always remain at least half full during the winter months but that’s not always the case. An empty gas container should be kept in the trunk and pulled out in scenarios where it’s safe to travel to and from a nearby gas station.
Duct tape. Slide on ice and break your bumper or taillight? It sounds silly but duct tape is great for keeping broken or bent pieces together until filing for a more permanent fix.
Most of these essentials can be organized into a foldable storage cube in the trunk of a vehicle along with a pair of work gloves. A clear, plastic shoebox-sized tote is great for additional items – first-aid kit, ice scraper, paper towels, snacks, playing cards, spare phone charger, flashlight, orange or red fabric (for spotters, in case your vehicle is covered) – that sit in the main compartment of a car.
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