Are you prepared for winter driving?

By Barbara LaBoe

Have you ever dug your car out of 4-foot-tall snowbank? Watched the world whirl by as you spun out of control down an icy freeway? Or prayed your car would stop skidding before it slammed into that moose up ahead?

I have experienced all of the above – as both a driver and a passenger. They make for interesting stories now, but only because I had the right supplies to keep me safe and warm until help arrived.
After years in Alaska and Montana, my car is packed with blankets, food, a first aid kit and other winter supplies. But many of my friends – and even some coworkers who will remain nameless – can’t say the same. I’m always amazed when someone tells me they don’t have jumper cables or an ice scraper in their trunk. It seems as risky as starting out on a long trip without enough gas to get there.

I know it’s easy to procrastinate stocking your vehicle for winter weather. We’re all busy, and no one wants to think a crash or weather delay will happen to them.  But even if you’re the safest driver in the world, the driver next to you can still cause a chain reaction crash and the road ahead can still be blocked by snow.

I can’t inspect each of your cars, as I’ve done with some friends, but I can share this Winter Driving Supply Checklist to make winter driving prep easier. Take it with you shopping to ensure you get everything you need. Then use it as a packing guide for your vehicle. (Storing winter items in a plastic bin helps control clutter and also makes them easy to find in an emergency).

Printable version of Winter Driving Supply Checklist (pdf 176 kb)

Of course, I hope you’ll never need to use these items. I hope I won’t either. But past experience has taught me things like snow storms, road closures and even the sudden appearance of moose or deer can happen without warning. And I think we’ll all feel better knowing you’re prepared if something similar happens to you. Think of the great stories you’ll be able to tell.