Fall is here and that means winter is right around the corner. We have been busy getting all the last minute things done outside before winter arrives and the snow starts flying. One thing we always do before winter is to go through our vehicles and make sure they are ready for winter. We also add a winter emergency kit to the vehicle so that if we become stranded we are prepared and can survive in the cold weather until help arrives. I have a free vehicle checklist and emergency kit checklist that you can print off and use to ensure that you are prepared for winter weather!
There are many things we do every fall in order to prepare for winter. We rake the fallen leaves, we winterize our camper, we clean out the garden, and we shouldn’t overlook our vehicles! Think of how much time you spend in your vehicle and how often you rely on it to get you somewhere safely. Before winter hits make sure you do a thorough vehicle maintenance check and you can use this free printable winter vehicle & emergency kit checklist to make sure you don’t miss anything important!
In order to make sure your vehicle is ready for winter you’ll need to check several things and ensure they are working properly.
- Tires: Ensure your tires have good tread and are at the proper tire pressure. We often switch our tires in the winter and put on snow tires that handle better in snowy conditions. Regardless of whether or not you put on snow tires, you need to ensure your tires are in good condition with adequate tread and tire pressure.
- Headlights: One thing that often gets overlooked in routine vehicle maintenance is the vehicle’s headlights. When we turn back the clocks in the fall it leaves us driving in the dark more often than not. Having good down road headlights is vital to your safety. Bright headlights ensure we can see obstacles in the road sooner and that allows more reaction time to avoid the obstacle and thus avoid an accident. We use SYLVANIA SilverStar® ULTRA headlight bulbs which have whiter and brighter light for more clarity. They provide additional side road and down road visibility compared to basic headlight bulbs which can help identify and react sooner to road hazards like debris, animals, disabled vehicles or pedestrians. If you can’t remember the last time you changed your headlight bulbs then they probably need to be changed. Bulbs dim over time which leads to reduced visibility.
- Oil changes: Ensure your vehicle has had routine oil changes performed and if not, change the oil immediately.
- Windshield wipers: Ensure windshield wipers are in good working order and properly clear the windshield. If they are old or aren’t clearing the windshield well, replace them.
- Gas tank: Remember to keep your gas tank above half full all winter. If the gas gets too low in the winter the small amount of water in it can freeze and cause damage to your vehicle. It’s also good to have at least half a tank of gas in the event that you get stranded or waylaid at an accident scene.
Print off this free winter vehicle checklist and emergency kit checklist and go through your vehicle today! Another thing you should be doing is keeping a winter emergency kit in your vehicle. In the event that your vehicle gets stuck in the ice/snow or you get in an accident, you’ll want to have these supplies on hand to help you survive the cold weather until help arrives. Keep in mind that if you should become stuck in a stranded vehicle in cold weather you may not have cell service, etc and will need to wait until someone finds you. Don’t be caught stranded empty handed! Keep these supplies in a kit in your backseat:
- Hand shovel: Useful for digging out snow if you become stuck or your vehicle is stuck. In the even of a rollover you may need to get out a window and dig your way out.
- Windshield scraper: You will use this nearly every day in the winter if you park your vehicle outside at all. Clear the windshield as well as side and back windows so your visibility is good.
- Kitty litter or sand: Use this if your tires are stuck on ice. Sprinkle it by the tires to help give them traction to get out.
- Sleeping bag or warm blanket: Always keep a sleeping bag or warm blanket in the vehicle. If you become stranded it will be vital to keeping you warm.
- First aid kit: Ensure that you have a well stocked first aid kit including all necessary supplies such as gauze, ice pack, medicines, scissors, bandages, burn gel, rubbing alcohol, etc.
- Protein foods: Bring along foods high in protein such as granola bars, nuts, beef jerky, etc to ensure you have a food supply should you become stranded.
- Bottled water: Always keep bottled water in your vehicle in the event you become stranded. As a last resort you could also melt snow using your lighter or matches, however melting snow doesn’t provide a great amount of water.
- Flashlight and batteries: You may be stranded in the dark or need to walk for help. Ensure you have a working flashlight and batteries on hand.
- Cell phone charger: Ensure you have a cell phone charger on hand. Since your vehicle may be disabled it’s also a good idea to have a backup battery or power source in your emergency kit.
- Matches or a lighter: It’s a good idea to include matches or a lighter in your emergency kit as you may need to start a fire to keep warm or melt snow for water.
- Hand warmers: Keep hand warmers that heat when you break a disc in your emergency kit. In the event your car is disabled and you need to keep warm you can put the hand warmers in your pockets, boots, or under your clothing to help keep you warm.
- Tow rope: A tow rope is especially useful if you go in the ditch and need to be pulled out. A passing vehicle may be able to help pull you out.
- Duct tape: Duct tape has a variety of uses and you never know when you may need it to repair something!
- Tools: If you are in an accident you may be able to repair the vehicle enough to get it to a service station provided you have tools. You also should have tools on hand to change a tire should you need to.
- Extra clothing: It’s always a good idea to keep spare jackets, mittens, hats, wool socks, sweaters, etc in the vehicle in the event you become stranded and need to keep warm until help arrives.