Winter Driving Essentials – Items To Keep in Your Car and Tips on Driving in the Snow
Winter presents itself differently depending on where in Idaho you are living or traveling through. In the Treasure Valley, it is rare for winter to be so harsh that major weather precautions for driving need to be taken on a daily basis. But sometimes it can get a little slick out there.
Many parts of Idaho in higher elevation, however, are buried under snow for the entire winter, and the roads are like rivers of ice for weeks. And, obviously, the weather affects more than Idaho. People living here frequently travel to neighboring states using the freeways that connect them. These stretches of land are so vast and remote that not much can be done to improve road conditions if a blizzard roars through and covers it in ice and snow.
If you are traveling long distances in the winter, be smart. Prepare yourself for everything you possibly can. Lots can happen on the road, and you don’t want to find yourself needing knowledge or tools that you don’t have.
Useful Items to Keep in the Car
This is a pretty intense list. Not every vehicle will have room for all of these things, plus luggage and people, so bring those items which would be most helpful.
- Ice scraper and brush — the stronger, heftier, and higher quality, the better.
- Snow socks or chains for tires — You can get these at any local tire center, auto parts stores, and sometimes Wal-Mart.
- Kitty Litter, Sand, or Rock Salt — This can help create traction on an icy surface.
- Jumper Cables
- Toolkit — make sure it has all the basics: crescent wrench, Allen keys, pliers, screwdrivers, etc.
- Foldable Snow Shovel
- Heavy winter clothes and wool blankets
- Food & water
- First Aid Kit & other necessary prescriptions and medications
- External Battery — this is for your vehicle’s battery, and some come with a portable jump starter.
- Air Compressor — in case your tires get low from the cold temperature.
- Gas Can — In case your fuel runs out and you are forced to find a gas station. Ideally, a situation like that would be avoided altogether.
- External Battery Charger for vehicles and smartphones
- Flares and caution triangles/cones
Tips on Driving in Bad Weather
AAA, being travel experts, offers some advice on local and long-distance travel tips. Here are the basic ones:
- Stay home and don’t travel unless it’s absolutely necessary.
- Keep a close eye on weather apps and broadcasts that apply to your destination and the area through which you will be traveling.
- Stay connected with friends and family – tell others where you are whenever it is possible to do so safely.
- Keep a large distance between yourself and the car in front of you.
- Accelerate and Decelerate slowly
- If possible, don’t stop. Keep going until you reach your destination.
- Don’t speed or power up hills on slick or snowy roads.
- When taking on a hill, do not stop. Once you are headed up the hill, you must keep moving to reach the top.
If have no choice but to stop, or if you slide off the road, keep these things in mind:
- Stay with your vehicle, and stay visible – A person is easy to miss when they are outside their vehicle and on the side of the road.
- Keep your exhaust pipe uncovered and free of snow.
- Don’t waste fuel – turn off your vehicle when you can to conserve gas.
- Do not tire yourself out – shoveling snow or pushing to free a vehicle can be very tiring. People can over-exert themselves easily. Do not allow yourself to become physically exhausted through your efforts to get back on the road.
For the full list of tips and advice from AAA on winter driving, go here.
If you Go! traveling this winter, take as many of these items with you as you can. Know your vehicle’s brakes, accelerator, and steering wheel sensitivity well before you try to pilot it through a blizzard. Be safe, and arrive alive.
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