Be Safe – Get ready for winter driving
Sometimes small problems can turn into big problems. Like roadside emergencies in the cold of winter – they can quickly become life-threatening, especially if you get wet or require immediate medical attention.Being well prepared is the best thing you can do to protect yourself and the passengers who ride in your commercial vehicle. Let’s look at some items that would make a good winter emergency kit for your van or truck.
Emergency Communication Devices when Driving in the Winter
The number one rule when stranded is to signal for help. Keep these communication devices in your commercial vehicle:
A Loud Whistle. Nothing gets attention faster than a loud whistle. That’s why police officers carry them.
Flashlight. The brighter the better when signaling for help. Get some extra batteries too.
Cell Phone Adapter to Plug into Vehicle’s Charging Outlet. An emergency is no time to have a dead cell phone battery. Enough said.
A Pre-Paid Cell Phone. Keep it in your glovebox.
Battery-Powered Radio. For listening to emergency broadcasts. Make sure the batteries are good. Replace them yearly anyway.
Crank-Powered Flashlight and Radio. Because batteries die.
Emergency Flares and Triangle Reflectors. Great for signaling that you need help, especially if you are stranded in a place without cell phone service. Truck drivers are required to carry these, and so should you.
Survival – What you need in your Winter Emergency Kit
The second rule of survival is to protect your health. It sounds simple, but in dire circumstances the lack of any one of the following items can cost you your life. Put these items in your winter emergency kit:
Bottled water. You can live a long time without food, but you can’t live very long without water. Carry a few bottles of water, or some sports drinks in plastic bottles.
Non-Perishable Food Items. Energy bars are great for emergencies, as are raisins, nuts and candy bars. Make sure their expiration dates have not passed.
Waterproof Matches, Lighter and Emergency Candles. Not ordinary candles, these come packaged in a tin and will burn for hours on end. Good for light, heat and starting fires.
Extra Clothes to Stay Warm. A spare jacket. You can buy one cheap from a thrift store. Place some heavy socks, mittens, a wool hat (and maybe a wool scarf too) in the jacket’s pockets.
Towel. If you get wet in cold weather, like when digging out of snow, the moisture will rapidly drain heat out of your body, causing hypothermia. Dry off to stay warm.
First Aid Kit. Include a pocket knife or a multi-purpose tool. Don’t forget essential medications.
Gloves and Antiseptic Wipes. Emergency people won’t touch blood without wearing gloves. Carry some surgical gloves.
Sleeping Bag or Survival Blanket. Astronaut blankets are little more than heavy duty aluminum foil. When folded up they take up very little space. Yet that scant covering can hold in enough body heat to save a life. Get one for each passenger too.
Chemical Hand Warmers. Frostbite is a serious matter which often leads to amputated limbs. Don’t risk it.
Rescue – Keep these Items in your Commercial Vehicle
Sometimes you can get yourself out of trouble. Other times the help of a passing motorist will get you on the road again. These rescue items are nice to have in your commercial vehicle:
Folding Camp Shovel, Windshield Scraper & Snow Brush. To clear snow and ice.
Multipurpose Rope or Tow Chain. The rope is somewhat elastic, so it’s more forgiving than a chain when pulling a vehicle out of a ditch.
Road Salt or Cat Litter. For traction on ice.
Booster Cables. Make sure you have cables long enough to stretch two car widths, at least 16 feet. If you carry old booster cables make sure there is no corrosion on them.
Spare Windshield Wiper Blades. Because ice on your windshield tears them up.
A Compact Jump-Starter Box and Cell Phone Charger. Small enough to hold in one hand, these devices pack enough power to jump start your vehicle or charge up your cell phone, or both.
MAKE SAFETY A ROUTINE
The best way to stay prepared is to make a written list of supplies in your winter emergency kit. Then review the list every year to make sure you have all the items. Be safe.
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