winter-is-coming-make-sure-you-have-a-roadside-safety-kit

Cold, icy weather is around the corner, and wintry roads pose major threats to driver safety. It’s important that you and your loved ones are prepared with well-stocked roadside safety kits to guard against threats, so we’ve outlined the ten most important things you should keep in your vehicle to stay safe this winter.

1. Jumper Cables

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One of the most basic items you should keep on hand throughout the year is a good set of jumper cables. If your battery unexpectedly dies and another vehicle is nearby, you can use jumper cables to recharge your battery so you can drive to an auto shop to assess the underlying problem. Look for jumper cables that are at least twenty feet long and can fit both side- and top-post batteries.

Store in: Trunk

Keep your jumper cables in a protective bag to avoid corrosion. Don’t store jumper cables in an open truck bed where they are vulnerable to water damage. Check your cables every few months for rust and clean them with a scouring pad or steel wool if needed.

2. Battery Charger

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If you find yourself in the middle of nowhere with a dead battery, a portable battery charger can save you. You won’t have to wait around for passersby with this device, as it can jump start your car and charge your cellphone. Be sure to recharge your battery pack after every use for optimal power.

Store in: Trunk

Keep your battery charger dry and away from extreme temperatures. Heat will do damage to your battery charger, so a cooler trunk that isn’t exposed to the sun is the best place to store this item.

3. Heavy-Duty Self-Starter

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A self-starter jumps your car battery, and a heavy-duty one is a necessity if you have a larger vehicle or recreational equipment—like a boat—that requires more power. Look for a self-starter with over 1,500 peak amps, but be ready for a heavy device—some can weigh around twenty pounds.

Store in: Trunk or Garage

Self-starters are about as heavy as a car battery, so it might be best to keep this item at home for those days when you can’t start your car or when you’re taking the boat out on the water. Always keep it clean, dry, and charged to preserve battery life.

4. Jack and Lug Wrench

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If you’ve experienced a flat tire, you know a jack and lug wrench is necessary. Look for a scissor jack that is made from rust-proof steel and comes with a universal lug wrench. This helps you remove lug nuts before changing a tire. The wrench we recommend fits most cars, but check the make and model of your vehicle before buying. If you use a jack and lug wrench, you’ll need a spare tire—most cars come with one, but if not, you can find one at most tire stores.

Store in: Trunk

The spare tire flap in your trunk is a great place to store your jack and wrench for roadside emergencies. These items should last you a few years without needing replacement.

5. Flashlight

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A good flashlight is crucial for roadside safety at night, in bad weather, and in remote areas where you can use it as a signal. Avoid getting stuck with a flashlight low on batteries by purchasing one that charges by hand-crank, solar power, or USB. The light we recommend is also equipped with a radio to keep you even more prepared.

Store in: Cabin

Keep your flashlight somewhere inside your car, such as the glove compartment, for easy access. Check your flashlight every few months to see if it needs new batteries or a full charge.

6. First Aid Kit

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Your roadside safety pack needs to include a first aid kit. You can make this kit as comprehensive as you want, but standard items include bandages, alcohol wipes, and pain reliever. The first aid kit we recommend also includes other useful items such as tweezers, gauze, and a compass.

Store in: Cabin

First aid kits should be inside your car in case of emergency. Make sure to refill your kit as items run out and always replace expired medicine. Most medications last at least a year, but make sure to check any that you keep in your first aid kit on a regular basis.

7. Poncho

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Ponchos and other protective gear are roadside safety kit necessities. Keeping dry may not seem like a priority when you’re facing car trouble, but standing in cold or wet weather for extended periods of time can lead to serious health and safety issues, like hypothermia.

Store in: Cabin

Keep enough ponchos for every family member inside the car so you can suit up before braving inclement weather. As long as your poncho doesn’t get damaged, you won’t need to update this item very often.

8. Ice Melt

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If you live in an icy climate, keeping a bag of ice melt in your car during winter is a good way to practice roadside safety. You never know when you’ll be stuck in an icy parking lot, and ice melt can help you escape safely. A bag of ice melt should last you a few years—just make sure it is safe for any pets or kids in your home.

Store in: Trunk

Ice melt can cause quite a mess, so use spill-proof containers to store it in your trunk during winter.

9. Cat Litter

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If you have a cat, a lesser-known road safety item may already be sitting in your garage. Standard cat litter provides necessary traction if your tires are stuck in the snow. Don’t worry about the quality of litter in your roadside safety kit—any gravel-like mix will do.

Store in: Trunk

Like ice melt, cat litter can potentially be messy if it spills in your car, so only store it in your trunk during winter and always keep it in a bag or bin that is unlikely to open.

10. Snow Chains

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If you live in an icy, mountainous region, keeping a set of snow chains in your car can be a big help. Simply attach the chains to your tires before approaching a steep incline or rough area, then remove them once you’ve reached more stable road conditions. Depending on their strength and durability, chains can be a pricey investment. And you’ll need to fit them to your car’s make and model—though many adjust to fit most tires.

Store in: Trunk

You can remove and replace snow chains seasonally to save room in your trunk. Keep your chains in a protective bag for easy access in inclement weather.

Creating Your Roadside Safety Kit

Though some companies, like AAA, sell pre-made roadside safety kits, you will likely want to purchase some items separately to ensure you have everything you need. Consider purchasing a large bin for items you will keep in your trunk, and a smaller bin for items you will keep in the cabin. No matter what you decide to include in your roadside safety kit, the important thing is that you feel prepared for anything that may come your way while driving.

*SafeWise has conducted impartial research to recommend products. This is not a guarantee. Each individual’s unique needs should be considered when deciding on chosen products.

Written by Emily Garland

Emily Garland is a safety and home automation writer for SafeWise.com. As a marketing and social media expert, Emily highly values communication and believes that helpful communication is one of the best ways to prepare for and stay safe in emergency situations. Learn more

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