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Essential Supplies for Winter Driving

By Jason Bottlinger on January 24, 2018

Every year, people get trapped in their vehicles in serious winter storms; sometimes just for a few hours, sometimes for several days.

This has led to some horrifying stories, like the woman buried for three days in Maryland, or the family of four trapped in their car for two days in New Mexico. They were all safely rescued, but not every story has such a happy ending.

Serious winter weather in Nebraska means dangerous road conditions, and that means you need to pack some essentials in your vehicle just in case the unthinkable happens. Here are our recommendations before taking a drive outside in the snow:

  • Check the road conditions and weather. Before you hit the road, check the forecast, especially if you’re going to be traveling for hours. Check not only where you are, but also where you’re going, especially if you’re driving to another city or state. It’s also a good idea to look at road conditions. Skies may be clear right now, but rain or snow an hour ago might have made roads icy.
  • Pack food and drink. Food and water are useful if you find yourself stuck on a roadside or in a ditch for a few days. Have food that you can open easily without a can opener or other tool. It should be something that will not go bad or expire, so you can keep an emergency food kit in your car all year long. Water bottles are essential since dehydration in cold weather is a serious threat. You might not feel thirsty as quickly as you would in the heat, but your body still needs plenty of water.
  • Bring supplies to stay warm. Once you have food and water, put a few extra blankets in your car. There are also hand warmers and similar packets that use chemical reactions to generate heat. Having a few of these in your vehicle can help you stay warm, even if your car gets packed in under snow and ice. Do not choose items that require electricity, as you probably won’t have power if you get trapped in your car. Blankets and chemical warmers are ideal, since they can be packed away and work no matter the situation you find yourself in. You should also dress warmly when you get into your car—don’t assume the car’s heater is enough, because if you’re stuck in the car, running the engine can cause carbon monoxide to build up and create a suffocation hazard.
  • Extra clothes wouldn’t hurt. You might get out of the vehicle to try to shovel your tires free or get help. If you get back into your car to stay warm, your clothes, especially your socks and shoes, will be wet from melted snow and slush. Having extra, dry clothes to change into will not only keep you comfortable and warmer, but will also help prevent illness.
  • Have flashlights and other tools. Make sure you have a flashlight or lamp in your vehicle that you can use to help you see at night if you have to get out of the car. One that runs on batteries is fine, but something that you can manually charge is ideal. You should also have some flares that you can light and place down on the ground to make your vehicle more visible, which can help prevent collisions and get attention if you are stranded. A small tool that includes a window breaker is also a good idea, since you might need to shatter your window to climb out of your vehicle. A radio can help you listen to weather conditions and figure out how to look for help, but make sure you choose one with a hand-crank that you can power without batteries. A basic first-aid kit, with antiseptic, bandages, and similar supplies, is also invaluable for long car trips, especially if you find yourself stuck in snow and ice.
  • Tell people where you’re going. Perhaps the single most important thing you can do before venturing out into the unforgiving cold is tell other people where you are going—not only the destination, but also the route you are taking to get there. Then, make sure you follow that route. That way, if you don’t show up, other people know that something is wrong and can give emergency crews an accurate map of where you are likely to be. This is even more important if you are planning on going camping or along desolate roads, since finding you can become almost impossible without knowing where to look.

We at Bottlinger Law L.L.C. hope that you have a safe time driving in Nebraska’s winter weather. But as a law firm, we know that things sometimes go wrong. If you’re hit by another vehicle on the icy roads, that driver is still responsible for your damages and injuries. For a free consultation with an Omaha car accident attorney, please call (402) 505-8234.

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