As a traveling mom who lives in Vermont I have a “snow-readiness” kit in my car from September to May, because you never know! For those of you who live in an area that has any chance of winter, now is the time to start prepping a sack of items to keep in your trunk. Taking time now will save your sanity should you run into a blustery broken-down situation.
Some items that I assume you will have are a snow scraper (a must for any cold climate mom) and a cell phone.
To assemble your kit, find a large duffel bag and load it with the following-
1. Light. The rest of your kit is no good if you can’t see what you’re doing. I recommend getting a sturdy flashlight like a Maglite. These hefty lights can double as a club if necessary. Be sure to keep a spare set of batteries just in case. Also, it is a good idea to throw a tinned candle and some waterproof matches in the kit as well.
2. Flares. Road flares will alert other motorists to steer clear. But what good are they if you don’t know how to use them. Brush up on road flare use with this great video.
3. Portable Jumper. If you live in a cold climate, drive an older car with some issues, or travel on remote roads it is a great idea to invest in a portable jumper. Jumper cablesare great but they require another car to be present. Portable jumpers allow you to jump your own car. Versions that plug into the cars adaptor can run as low as $20, other stronger direct jump models can run from $50-$120. Be sure to check the battery regularly as they will do you know good if they are not charged!
4. An empty gas container. During the winter you should keep your car’s gas tank more than half full. However, should you ever run out (ever been in a traffic jam on a highway during an ice storm in Kentucky? I have!) keeping an empty one gallon container in your car will help out.
5. AAA.For a small yearly fee you can call someone else to bring you fuel, tow your vehicle, let you into your car if you’re locked out, or change a tire. Be aware that in inclement weather AAA will assist those whose safety is at risk first so a AAA membership is not a substitution for a snow-ready kit.
6. A small shovel and some kitty litter. These items will assist in lifes little snow-related inconveniences, like when your wheels are spinning and the car isn’t moving. Use a small folding shovel (Colemanmakes some nice ones) to remove excess snow from around the tires and sprinkle some kitty litter for added traction. Make sure to get the cheap clay cat litter. The eco-friendly recycled paper litters aren’t going to do you any good in a Nor’easter.
7. Items for warmth. Hopefully, the above items have solved your problem but for a worst-case scenario you should keep a blanket in the car. If you regularly travel with multiple folks in your car put in a couple. Also keep a change of clothes for whomever is going to be out in the cold and wet shoveling out the car. Extra socks,mittens and hats are also useful. You can also buy handwarmers. These warmers when exposed to oxygen have a chemical reaction that exudes heat. They will last several hours. A rain poncho will also help out in keeping you dry (and therefore, warmer) should there be a heavy wet snow.
8. Food and water. Again in a severe scenario you want to make sure that you have the necessities. Keep two gallon jugs of water in your car. Granola bars, dried cereal and fruit, and nuts will ensure that you have something to eat. If anyone in your family is on essential medication you should keep a little extra as backup in your car.
9. First Aid Kit. This is an item that should be in your car year round. You can either assemble your own kit (bandages, antibacterial medicated cream, wipes, gauze, wraps, pain medicine, etc) or buy a ready made at Target.com or Walmart.com. Be sure to include a multipurpose tool in the kit. A Swiss Army-type knife will have tweezers, scissors, and a small blade that can come in handy when dealing with emergencies.
10. Items to entertain the kids. This being geared toward the traveling mom the list would not be complete without items for the kiddos. Keep a couple of coloring books, crayons, and an unopened small toy for each child in the kit. Nothing is worse than attempting to deal with a breakdown situation and crying children simultaneously! I’ve found that a new toy, even if it’s a dollar store buy, will hold a little ones attention for an impressive amount of time.
Take the time today to gear up for the season of snow and worry about one less thing this winter. Drive safely and travel warm!