What Should You Have In Your Car for Winter Emergencies
The 30-car pile-up in Carmel got me thinking about the items you might need in a winter emergency kit, so you're prepared for whatever happens.
Police and emergency crews were on the scene of the chain-reaction crash very quickly, but imagine if you had an accident in a remote area. I think about it all the time, since I live in the woods of Orrington, and drive to work before 5 a.m. each day. I went off the road once, and sat in a snowbank for a short time, but had my cellphone and some emergency numbers, so could access help quickly.
I consulted the Maine Emergency Management Agency's website for suggestions on items you should put together in your vehicle, so you're ready for emergency, or maybe just inconvenient situations.
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Shovel, windshield scraper, and broom - These are self-explanatory, but you need more than just that little plastic scraper.
Extra windshield wiper fluid - Finding yourself on a slushy road without windshield wiper fluid could be disastrous. Always keep some extra on hand.
Tire chains or traction mats - Both of these items could help you make your way out of a snowbank without having to call a tow truck. Kitty litter is also good for this, so throw a bag into your trunk or backseat.
Flashlight, extra batteries, and glow sticks - Getting stranded at night means you need some light sources, so keep a working flashlight and some extra batteries to find your way around. And glow sticks make a great source of light inside the car.
Flares or reflectors - These, obviously, will help other motorists to know that you're there and in distress.
Blankets, extra socks, hat, footwear, and mittens - If your car isn't running, or is in a position where running it could be dangerous, you'll need to stay warm. If you're transporting children or pets, make sure you have enough for everyone.
Water and healthy snacks - This one is tricky. You can keep granola bars and some candy in your vehicle, but the water will freeze overnight. So get in the habit of grabbing some bottles of water on your way out and tossing them in the car. And again, if you have pets, make sure to have water and a dish for them.
First Aid Kit - Be ready for anything, so bandaids, gauze, medical tape, OTC painkillers, and some antibiotic cream are all good ideas.
Jumper Cables and a siphon hose - If a passerby stops to help, you want to be prepared, whether you have a dead battery or an empty gas tank.
Cell phone car charger - Keeping your cellphone charged is important but, if you're stranded for a while, you may need to give the battery some love.
Make sure you have emergency numbers programmed into your phone, so you're not wasting time searching online for them. I have the Penobscot County Sheriff's Office, Brewer Police, and AAA New England in my phone. If you often travel with a pet, put a picture of the animal in your car, so first responders will know to look for them. Put all these items together in a tote, and store them in your car, when you can. Not in your trunk. In an accident situation, you may not be able to get into your trunk, so it's better to have them inside the vehicle.
Find the complete list and more information on the Maine Emergency Management Agency's website.