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January 2013

Prepare a winter emergency kit

Traveling in the winter can sometimes be a risky undertaking.

Prepare a winter emergency kit

Snow, sleet, ice and heavy rain can make the most routine drive a treacherous, unwanted adventure. Before hitting the road there are some things to make sure you do: Let someone know when you depart, the route you'll be taking and your expected arrival time; make sure to have proper clothing based on weather conditions; and do not leave for your trip without a full tank of gas. While these are a great starting point, there are some additional precautions to take to try and reduce the risk on a winter trip, starting with preparing an emergency kit before you leave.

What should be in your kit

The following items should be in your vehicle when traveling in wintry conditions:

  • A working flashlight along with extra batteries (you can download a flashlight app on your phone)

  • A phone charger that is compatible with your vehicle

  • Reflective triangles and brightly-colored cloth

  • Blankets for all passengers in the vehicle, as well as hats and gloves

  • Activities such as books or games to help keep children occupied

  • A compass

  • A first aid kit

  • A bag of kitty litter (non-clumping, use for traction)

  • An ice scraper and snow brush

  • Wooden stick matches in a waterproof container

  • Scissors and string/cord

  • Non-perishable, high-energy foods like unsalted canned nuts, dried fruits, and hard candy

If you get stranded

The first thing you should do is call for assistance. As a 21st Century customer, you automatically have this service.

It's usually best to stay with the vehicle, especially if you are in an unknown area. Make sure the exhaust pipe is clear of snow or debris and run the engine occasionally, about 10-15 minutes for every hour. In extremely cold conditions it may be necessary to keep the engine running continuously, as it might be hard re-starting it once it is shut off. Keep one window slightly open to vent the interior. Also, always stay awake while the engine is running.

Where to keep your emergency kit

While it may seem that the best place to keep your emergency kit is the trunk, this can present a problem if you are involved in a collision that damages the rear/trunk of your vehicle, as it may not be possible to access the kit. A good option to this is to keep your emergency kit stored on the passenger-side floorboard, where it can be easily accessed and is less likely to become airborne in a collision. Note: If your emergency kit includes flares, always keep flares in the trunk if you travel with children.

Should you find yourself stranded due to wintry or wet weather and your car is not drivable, your best bet is to stay in your car until help arrives after calling for roadside assistance. In this case, having an emergency survival kit could turn out to be the best investment you make for you and your family.

Note: This information only serves as an educational guideline and is not to be taken as advice. 21st Century Insurance is not responsible for any injury or loss that may occur due to use of this information.

Sources: nsc.org; nhtsc.gov; weather.com; dmv.org; edmunds.com; nicb.org; nada.org; cars.com; ehow.com

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