Winter Road Trip Must-Haves

The last few months of the year are among the most popular times for road trips in Virginia, with travel for holiday visits, skiing, hunting and winter vacations. Unfortunately, winter weather increases the risk of car accidents.

Before you head out, make sure you will be safe if the unforeseen occurs. Pack our “Winter Road Trip Must-Haves.”

Must-Have ItemWhyTips
Tire Chains Chains give your tires extra grip and allow you to continue driving if you hit heavy snow. Check your owner’s manual to see whether you should use metal or cable chains for your car. Practice putting them on before you hit the road.
Booster cables Cold weather can be brutal on car batteries. Sometimes, all you need is a jump-start to get back on the road again. Before connecting jumper cables, make sure everything is turned off in the disabled car. Remember that the cable from the negative (black) terminal post on the good battery should be connected to something metal rather than the battery in the disabled car.
Flashlight If your car breaks down in the dark or you need to search for a tool or the source of a problem, proper illumination will be a big help. Take the batteries out of a flashlight before storing it. Batteries can corrode and damage the flashlight as they age. Consider a headlamp style flashlight for hands-free use.
Blankets If you are stranded in cold weather, you could develop hypothermia or frost-bite. Keep warm instead. Fleece blankets offer warmth but are lightweight and sturdy. They also wick moisture away from the body. Store a sleeping bag in a stuff sack, which can be squeezed down to save space.
Emergency Radio A radio with a NOAA weather band gives you access to weather forecasts and disaster alerts, including everything from winter storms to fires, chemical spills and Amber Alerts. Look for the “NOAA NWR All Hazards” and “Public Alert” logos. Public Alert ensures it provides local alerts and a tone before an alert comes through, and it allows external plug-ins like lights for the hearing impaired or vibration devices for the visually impaired. Don’t get carried away by multiple features – more uses mean more power is required.
Food and Water If you are stuck in cold weather for a prolonged period with a disabled car, it increases the risk of dehydration. Also, as your body works to digest food, the energy expended makes you warmer. Foods with dense calories and fat warm you faster. The easiest to use and pack in your car in case of an emergency is peanut butter.
Tool Kit Some auto problems can be fixed relatively easily – if you have the tool you need. Don’t get stuck saying, “If only I had a …” You can buy an emergency tool kit or prepare your own. Make sure your kit includes at least a small wrench set, socket set, pliers, screwdriver set, duct tape, electrical tape, cable ties, a tire pressure gauge and spare fuses.
Playlists Upbeat, fast-paced music is entertaining on a long drive and can help you stay alert. Setting up playlists before your trip keeps you from being distracted by fumbling with your player as you are driving. If you are making playlists for a car full of people, use familiar tunes – not ones from that incredible band that only you know (or care) about.