We all know to carry jumper cables, some extra blankets, and a few bottles of water in our car in case of an emergency, but what are some other items you should have in order to be prepared on the road?
You’ll never use a frying pan at the wheel, true, but keeping a can of cooking spray in your car is still a good idea—especially in winter. If the forecast looks bleak, pull out the spray, then open all your car doors. Spray the rubber seals along the edge of the door, making sure to give each one a good coating. The oil will prevent melting snow from sticking to the seal, so you won’t have to play tug-of-war with a door that has frozen shut overnight.
Cats may have nine lives, but your car’s supernatural abilities are decidedly limited. Instead of hitting the gas when you’re stuck in ice or snow, grab a bag of kitty litter from your trunk and sprinkle it in front of your tires. The grains act like gravel, giving you just enough traction to get back on the road.
Ice is one of winter’s hazards—both on the road and on your car. It’s always best to park in your garage or covered carport to prevent ice from forming on your windshield and rearview mirrors. But for those who are stuck with parking en plein air, here’s a clever trick. Just open up a few ziplock bags and slip them over your mirrors. The plastic covering will keep most of the ice and snow from sticking, making those frigid mornings way less frustrating.
Nighttime driving can be dangerous as a result of factors like insufficient street lighting and poor night vision. When you take all those hazards into consideration, you know that the last thing you need are foggy headlights. If you’re having trouble seeing the street, you can turn to an unlikely ally: toothpaste. Just keep a small tube in your glove compartment. If you notice that your lights could be brighter, dab some toothpaste on a cloth, and rub it in to erase dirty buildup.
Anyone who’s ever shoveled out the driveway after a foot of snow knows that thick socks are a winter must. But did you know that your car could use some help staying toasty too? Just slip a pair over your wipers before a storm, and they’ll keep the blades from freezing to your windshield—no ice scraper needed.
Lighter, Empty Coffee Can, and Tea Lights
These three items go together for one purpose: keeping you warm in the unlikely event that your car breaks down in the winter. Place the tea-light candles inside the empty coffee can, then light. This should give you around four hours of light and a wee bit of warmth while you call for help.
Be sure to store a razor blade or utility knife in your glove compartment. Blades are handy for cutting things in an emergency, such as cans or even seat belts. As well, some people swear that razors do wonders to clean a bug-splattered windshield when there’s no squeegee at hand. If you do take a razor to your window, though, take care not to scratch the glass—that’s one nick that will never heal.
This miracle product can do just about anything, and that includes patching up your car in an emergency. If your fender is flapping in the breeze, duct tape can hold things together while you drive to the shop for a more permanent fix.
Foggy windows can be annoying and sometimes even dangerous. Keep a chalkboard eraser in your car to wipe them down from the inside without leaving streaks behind.
While a white flag is an age-old sign of surrender, a red flag, or in this case a red bandana, can raise a warning. When tied to your antenna, a red bandana indicates to other drivers that you need help. And, if your car gives out in poor weather when visibility is low, that bright red spot could help other drivers spot your car from afar, even as snow is piling up around it.
While you normally want to get the clutter out of the car, it doesn’t hurt to toss these items in the backseat or trunk. They might not be the typical auto accessories you keep on hand, but they will certainly be useful when the unexpected happens.