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Published on Jan 29, 2014 by Edgar Snyder

11 Winter Essentials You Should Have in Your Car Right Now

windshield snow removal

Make Sure to Store These Necessities in Your Vehicle During the Cold-Weather Months

In Western Pennsylvania, we are no stranger to frigid temperatures, icy roads, and winter storms. Driving in the winter can be especially risky, but preparation can be your best defense. By taking the time to put these 11 cold-weather essentials in your car today, you may prevent a winter weather-related accident down the road.

  1. Durable Ice Scraper and Snow Brush—If you've ever been without one, and in a moment of weakness resorted to cleaning a snow-covered windshield with an old magazine, you know how important it is to have an ice scraper and snow brush in your car. Also, in Pennsylvania, drivers now face citations and fines for neglecting to remove snow and ice from their windshields and windows. Investing in a sturdy ice scraper will not only save you from fines, but will also greatly improve your safety.
  2. Rock Salt or Kitty Litter—Many know that rock salt can melt ice, but it can also be used in a different way if your vehicle gets stuck in the snow. Pour salt, sand, "non-clumping" kitty litter, or gravel in the path of your car's wheels to create friction for your tires.
  3. Extra Windshield Washer Fluid—Make sure to fill your windshield washer fluid reservoir completely using winter fluid with de-icer and purchase extra to keep in your vehicle if you run out while out on the road.
  4. Flares, Reflective Triangles, and/or brightly colored cloth—These items can prevent another driver from hitting your vehicle if it becomes stuck in the snow. If stranded, light two flares and put them 5-10 feet behind and in front of your vehicle. Hang a piece of brightly colored cloth or fabric from your vehicle.
  5. Cell Phone Charger—While you should never text and drive, having a fully charged cell phone could save your life if you need to call for assistance in an emergency.
  6. Non-perishable, high-energy food like unsalted canned nuts, dried fruits, or hard candy—These types of foods can last long periods of time in your car, and can be especially useful if you become stranded. To prevent your mouth from getting too dry, experts recommend sucking on a hard candy.
  7. A "Car Blanket"—Select an extra blanket from your home and make its new permanent residence your car. A "car blanket" can warm you up during an early commute on a frosty winter morning, but could also be used during a winter emergency.
  8. Heavy-Duty Gloves—Cleaning ice and snow off the windshield is a lot easier and more effective if your hands are warm. Durable gloves can also be worn when checking your vehicle's engine or changing a tire.
  9. Water and First-Aid Kit—Not just important staples during the winter months, leave these items in your vehicle year round.
  10. A Collapsible Shovel—A traditional snow shovel may be too big to keep in your car, but a collapsible shovel is considerably smaller. They can be found at most sporting goods stores, and could help you in the case of substantial snow accumulation.
  11. Sunglasses—They aren't just for the summer months. When wintery precipitation coats every surface in water, snow, and ice, extremely bright reflections cause sun glare which seriously impairs vision. This reflective glare is particularly dangerous while driving. Keeping a pair of "shades" in your vehicle will help you see on those sunny winter days (not to mention, you'll also look pretty cool.)

Remember, safe winter driving starts before you even get out on the roads. For more helpful information for winter driving, visit our Winter Driving Safety Tips page or check out our infographic on How to Winterize Your Car.

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