It’s not too early to prepare for Thanksgiving travel safety, as the busiest travel week of the year is almost upon us. With Americans hurrying across the country to visit relatives and friends, the Department of Transportation estimates 250 billion miles of travel by vehicle during the month of November. Heavy traffic patterns coupled with unexpected winter weather conditions can become the perfect storm for accidents, a broken down vehicle or getting stuck in the snow and ice. Here is a list of items to keep in your car in case this happens to you:
Don’t battle with a makeshift tool if you find your windows iced over. Having a dedicated scraper will make the job easy. Be sure to scrape the back and side windows in addition to the windshield for optimal visibility before hitting the road.
The American Red Cross recommends assembling a first aid kit for both your car and home. The kit should contain the following items: absorbent compress dressings, adhesive bandages, adhesive cloth tape, antibiotic ointment, antiseptic wipes, aspirin, breathing barrier, instant cold compress, non-latex gloves, hydrocortisone ointment, scissors, roller bandages, sterile gauze pads, thermometer and tweezers.
The Department of Motor Vehicles says that the necessary materials for changing a tire include a working jack, an inflated spare tire, a lug nut wrench and a pipe for leverage. Make sure that your kit is complete and easy to reach.
Jumper cables not only come in handy for yourself, but also for your neighbor in the parking lot who doesn’t have any. It’s called Thanksgiving for a reason! Get those cables out and lend your marooned neighbor a jump.
Make sure to keep your phone charged and have a car charger readily available. With a fully charged phone, you can call for assistance and also have access to a flashlight, compass and GPS navigation in blustery conditions.
Keep an emergency contacts list in your glove box for emergency responders. If you have young children, attach an emergency information sticker with the child’s name, birth date, possible allergies, medical conditions, blood type, parents’ names, physician’s information and emergency contacts to the child’s car seat. For an older child, leave a card with the same information in the glove box.
Familiarize yourself with installing snow chains before you need them, especially if you’ll be traveling at elevations that usually get snow. Kitty litter and sand also double as traction if you become stuck in a snow bank or on a slick patch of ice.
Pack tools that have a variety of functions such as a hammer, screwdriver, wrenches, pliers, duct tape, a flashlight, a sharp knife and a compact snow shovel. If you’re not lucky enough to have MacGyver‘s number, you’ll at least be better able to get yourself out of jam.
In the event you need to wait inside or beside your car for help, carry along extra clothing, blankets, comfortable shoes, a rain poncho, a reflective vest and an umbrella. The extra clothing and blankets will also come in handy if you are stranded in your vehicle, too.
The National Safety Council advises travelers to keep “non-perishable, high energy foods like canned, unsalted nuts, dried fruits and hard candy” in your automobile. Water is key because humans can survive several weeks without food (think of famous fasters like Gandhi), but most can’t survive without water for more than four days.
Lastly, the best and most crucial item to keep in your car this winter is your sanity. Heavy traffic and weather conditions can exacerbate stress levels, especially during this already hectic season. Take deep breaths if you become anxious. Pull over to a rest stop for a quick power nap if you are fatigued. Practice meditation and listen to upbeat music. When all else fails, repeat to yourself, “We will get there when we get there.”