For nine million women, a Canadian winter means driving 67 billion kilometres in hazardous conditions. Accidents and breakdowns can happen at any time. Being prepared can mean the difference between an easy out or a long dark night freezing half to death. Carey-Anne Greenham, a Canadian Automotive Association spokesperson for central Ontario, recommends these car emergency kit ingredients to take the icy edge off winter driving.
In your front seat
A cell phone. Says Greenham, “If you're lost, stuck or broken down, it could save your life.” Forget the fancy phones and expensive packages if emergency use is your only concern. Get the most basic model for as little as $0 after a mail-in rebate, plus the $20-$35 cost of a car-lighter adapter. Typically, 200 minutes of air time costs about $25 per month.
Behind your front seat
A jug of windshield washer fluid, the kind specially formulated for winter conditions. If your car does not have a windshield washer gauge, check the fluid level frequently.
A quality snow brush and scraper to carefully clean off all the surfaces of your car. Seeing and being seen top Greenham's list for safe winter driving. “Being seen is having your car wiped off and not looking like a big snow bank driving down the road,” she says. Seeing does not mean peering through those little semi-circles created by overworked wipers. It means all your windows are clear, period. Take extra care to remove snow and ice from lights, wipers and windshield washer spouts.
In your glove box
A first-aid kit containing bandages, antiseptic, scissors and clean wipes. Add matches, long-burning beeswax candles for light and warmth, and energy bars for emergency snacks. Alongside your first-aid kit, keep a road map and reliable flashlight with a spare battery. Include a small address book with the names, addresses and phone numbers of people to contact in an emergency.
In your trunk
Extra clothing and footwear. Staying warm is a high priority if you break down. A blanket, heavy coat, toasty hat, and high, waterproof boots help ward off cold while you wait for help at the side of the road or dig yourself out of the parking lot at work.
Save some space for a shovel, a bag of kitty litter or sand, and some booster cables. Use the shovel to remove snow from around your tires if you're stuck and then the kitty litter or sand to add traction. Booster cables are handy if your battery is dead and you can flag a savvy Samaritan to boost yours with hers or vice versa. These items should be snuggled up against the inflated spare tire and pressure gauge that never leave your trunk.
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