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Any of us who have spent a winter or two in the Washington, D.C. or Washington D.C. area knows that weather conditions can be pretty unforgiving. Whether you are a daily commuter, or you’re planning for Holiday travel, one thing you shouldn’t leave home without is a Winter Survival Kit. The technicians at Ben Nielsen’s 10th Street Automotive can help you prepare your car for winter travel – insuring all of your fluids are topped off, your tires are in good condition, and your heater is blowing full-force – but in the event of a roadside emergency, you’ll want to be prepared. Read on for a list of items you should keep in your car during the cold winter months, as well as some tips for staying safe and warm in the event that you should get stranded alongside the road.

Emergency Survival Kit (cold weather):survival-kit

  • a shovel
  • windshield scraper and small broom
  • flashlight with extra batteries
  • battery powered radio
  • water
  • snack food including energy bars
  • raisins and mini candy bars
  • matches and small candles
  • extra hats, socks and mittens
  • first aid kit with pocket knife
  • necessary medications
  • blankets or sleeping bag
  • tow chain or rope
  • booster cables
  • emergency flares and reflectors
  • road salt, sand, or cat litter for traction
  • fluorescent distress flag and whistle to attract attention
  • cell phone charger

Kit tips:

  • Store items in the passenger compartment in case the trunk is jammed or frozen shut.
  • Choose small packages of food that you can eat hot or cold.

Survival tips:

  • Prepare your vehicle: Make sure you keep your gas tank at least half full
  • Be easy to find: Tell someone where you are going and the route you will take
  • If stuck: Tie a florescent flag (from your kit) on your antenna or hang it out the window. At night, keep your dome light on. Rescue crews can see a small glow at a distance. To reduce battery drain, use emergency flashers only if you hear approaching vehicles. If you’re with someone else, make sure at least one person is awake and keeping watch for help at all times
  • Stay in your vehicle: Walking in a storm can be very dangerous. You might become lost or exhausted. Your vehicle is a good shelter
  • Avoid Overexertion: Shoveling snow or pushing your car takes a lot of effort in storm conditions. Don’t risk a heart attack or injury. That work can also make you hot and sweaty. Wet clothing loses insulation value, making you susceptible to hypothermia
  • Fresh Air: It’s better to be cold and awake than comfortably warm and sleepy. Snow can plug your vehicle’s exhaust system and cause deadly carbon monoxide gas to enter your car. Only run the engine for 10 minutes an hour and make sure the exhaust pipe is free of snow. Keeping a window cracked while running the engine is also a good idea