Power steering. Four-wheel drive. Self-parking sensors. Today’s cars practically drive themselves. Add to that heated seats and entertainment systems, and you feel like you’re separate from the real world.
That’s all well and good until you break down, or worse, have an accident on a winter road.
To prepare for this, it’s essential you clear out the golf clubs and gym roller and pack the right equipment in your car boot.
Don’t rely on other drivers to have jump leads. Cold weather and running lights, heaters, and windscreen wipers can drain your car’s battery. So it’s crucial you carry battery cables. And don’t be embarrassed if you don’t know to use them. Reading The Telegraph’s How to jump-start a car battery using cables could save you more than blushes.
If you drive in remote regions, it’s worth investing in an emergency jump-starter to boost your car battery.
Speaking of power, in-car chargers for your mobile phone won’t be much help if your battery’s flat. So, it’s a good idea to buy a cheap ‘burner’ or disposable phone with prepaid SIM and that much-needed battery power. (Just in case you have to make an emergency call.) And remember, your burner won’t have sat nav, so best pack a physical map to find help / your nearest garage.
A rucksack per passenger
If you’re driving in wintry conditions, everyone in the car should pack a backpack with:
– Warm clothes (jacket, hat, scarf, gloves, socks and wellies)
– Drinking water
– Any medication required
– Snacks (taking into account any allergies)
As the driver, you should also have a hi-visibility vest in case you need to change a tire or clear a path in poor visibility.
More stuff to stay warm
In the event power goes and you have to wait in sub-zero temperatures, pack a foil or emergency blanket. A flask of hot tea or coffee is also a good idea for winter road trips.
If you have to change a tire or dig your way out of deep snow, you’ll need a:
– Warning triangle (set up behind your car to warn drivers you’ve broken down)
– Tow rope
– Torch with spare batteries
And to make sure you get back home, pack extra antifreeze to top up your engine’s cooling system. And screen wash to see where you’re going! Basic car maintenance such as this is important year round. For more tips, read How to stay safe when driving in wintry conditions.
A shovel upgrade
To save boot space, you can buy fold-up car shovels. Some even have removable saw blades in the handles to clear fallen branches from the road.
If you pack these winter essentials in your boot, you’ll be prepared for whatever the weather throws your way this winter.
But to be extra safe, remember Mum’s rule of letting someone know where you’re driving to. And phone to say you got in safe.