Bundle Up for Winter
Snow, sleet, ice, and freezing temperatures make winter driving treacherous and unpredictable. Be prepared for even the worst weather by stocking your car with supplies that will keep you comfortable and keep your car moving safely all season long.
While municipalities usually plow and ice city roads, sidewalks, parking lots, and concrete steps on private property don't fall within their purview. If you're faced with a treacherous and unavoidable dismount—for instance, a slippery sidewalk where ice has melted and refrozen—a bit of de-icer can make the trip from your car to your destination a little less dangerous. Just keep in mind before you pour that not everyone may appreciate your taking matters into your own hands. Available on Amazon; $20.97.
When you're stuck in the snow, the best thing to do is put your car into low gear and accelerate slowly to give the wheels the best chance at gaining traction. If the wheels spin too fast, your car could just end up further entrenched in the snow. To get that extra bit of traction, you can sprinkle some kitty litter in the path of your tires to give the treads something to grip so they can pull you out of your rut. Available on Amazon; $27.97.
A good spray de-icer can solve myriad problems. Spray it on the windshield to break up ice and frost—especially useful if your car's defroster is not in working order—or apply it to headlights and taillights to keep them from freezing over and losing brightness. It's also a good idea to keep a small container of de-icer in your purse, backpack, or briefcase for those times when your car's locks freeze over and you can't get in. Available on Amazon; $6.22.
Related: 8 Easy Ways to Winter-Proof Your Car
A snow brush is a winter-weather must-have. Ideally, opt for a combination snow brush and ice scraper like the Snow Moover, which has thick bristles that help brush away snow from the windshield, hood, headlights, and roof of the car so you can get going as quickly as possible and stay safe on the road. Available on Amazon; $15.96.
Mitten Windshield Scraper
It can be tough to scrape ice from your car windows when it's really cold outside. If you're wearing bulky gloves, you end up awkwardly fumbling and doing a so-so job with even the best ice scraper. Then, when you take off the gloves to gain better control of the scraper, your fingers go numb from the cold. Enter the MATCC ice scraper mitt, a mitten with an integrated scraper. It will get the job done and keep your paws toasty warm. Available on Amazon; $6.98.
If snow flurries threaten to cover your freshly scraped car while you run into the grocery store, or if freezing rain is coming down while you're inside working, you might want to throw a cover over your windshield. Not only will it keep your windshield free of snow and ice, but it will also protect the wipers from freezing to the glass, allowing you to get on your way quickly and easily. Available on Amazon; $29.95.
When you need extra traction to get out of a slippery situation, this foldable traction mat can handle it, whether you're stuck in snowy, muddy, or sandy conditions. Although it is lightweight and easy to carry, it can bear up to 3.5 tons—roughly the average weight of a midsize car. Available on Amazon; $31.99 for a set of two.
In extreme winter weather, you could become stranded on the road at any time. If you're stuck in your car, the last thing you want is to be uncomfortable and shivering. To keep your hands warm while you're waiting for help, stash a few packages of HotHands in the car. This popular air-activated hand warmer is a favorite of campers, hunters and fishermen, tailgaters, and anyone else who needs to keep warm in far-from-balmy conditions. Available on Amazon; $23.99.
Winter weather is unpredictable. You never know when you'll have to get out of the car and shovel snow out from under your tires or change a tire while icy rain is pouring down in sheets. To make these unexpected challenges safer and more manageable, be sure you have sturdy, slip-free footwear, such as this waterproof boot from Merrell, available in a variety of styles in both men's and women's sizes. A pair of these will provide the traction you need in an emergency, and they're even handy when all you need is a warm, dry change of shoes. Available at Merrell.com; from $127.99.
Related: 8 Quick Tips for Solving Winter Woes
Hand warmers aren't the only way to keep warm when you're stuck on the road. There are a number of top-rated heated electric blankets on the market that can be plugged into a 12-volt power outlet (in other words, the socket for the cigarette lighter). Look for a blanket that's large enough to keep two people warm and that has a cord long enough to reach the back seat. Available on Amazon; $22.99.
Flag down help, even in the worst weather, with a pair of trusty emergency flashlights. These lights by HeroBeam, sold as a twin pack, can also be used as work lights. The lights are water- and shock-resistant, and each one is outfitted with a strong magnet that allows for mounting on steel car panels, for instance, the hood or fender, and has a clothing clip to hook onto a coat or belt. Available on Amazon; $15.86.
Horrific storms in recent years have lead to road closures and delays that have left drivers stranded in bumper-to-bumper conditions for up to 12 hours. Prepare for trouble now by stashing high-protein snacks in the glove box. You'll need water, too, but it's not a good idea to keep water bottles in your car indefinitely, as they can freeze and crack. Instead, always carry a bottle or two in your backpack or purse so you'll be prepared for whatever winter dishes out. Available on Amazon; $38.88.
Be Ready for Anything
Ensure peace of mind by keeping these emergency essentials in the back of your car all season long.
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