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October 01, 2018 @ 12:00am

Build your winter Car survival kitWith fall’s splendors turning the air cooler and putting color into the trees, it’s easy to want to ignore the fact that winter is just around the corner. And, it’s even easier to forget how bad roads can get before the snow even flies.

That makes fall the ideal time to put together a winter survival kit for your car, making sure you keep yourself and your family safe this winter. Here are five essential items for your kit.

  1. A small shovel. Plenty of manufacturers produce shovels that are small enough to fit in your trunk, yet robust enough to dig your car out of a snow drift. Keep an eye out for models that offer extra features as well, like bottle openers, to make sure you’re ready to tailgate for the big game and stay safe in the snow.
  2. Flashlight with extra batteries. Not only will a flashlight allow you to see in the dark (without draining the battery on your cell phone) it can serve as a beacon to guide help to where you are. Keep in mind that cold batteries discharge faster than normal, so make sure you include extras.
  3. An emergency blanket. We’re not talking about Granny’s patchwork quilt here, though something is better than nothing. If you have to spend a night in the cold, you’ll want to get your hands on a survival blanket, sold through many online retailers. Not only do these blankets trap and hold an incredible amount of heat, the pack down in size, taking up a fraction of the space you might expect.
  4. Snack food, like energy bars. It’s absolutely critical to keep your strength up, even if it’s just long enough to dig yourself out of a snowy ditch. Go for foods that pack the most calories and nutrients into the smallest possible package, like energy bars. They’ll keep you moving, and last a long time in storage.
  5. Road salt or kitty litter. A small bag of these traction-giving substances can go a long way toward getting you off the ice or out of the snow. Look for basic kitty litter, unscented, with larger granules. If you choose salt, make sure it stays contained—that there are no holes in the bag—so you avoid rust or salt damage to your car’s interior.

In general, make sure to store your kit where you can reach it in case of an accident. Whether it’s due to damage caused in an accident or your car coming to rest in an awkward position, your trunk might not be accessible when you need your kit, so consider storing it up front.

Also, remember that if you leave your car running, snow and other debris can cause your exhaust to not vent properly, leading to the very real danger of carbon monoxide poisoning. Run your engine sparingly, both to save fuel and to make sure you stay safe.

A little early-season planning will make sure you stay on the roads this year.

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