Be prepared

A few winters ago, my car developed an electrical fault, where it lit up like a Christmas tree when it got wet. I had it recovered and fixed, but I still remember that night clearly. I was just about to leave work for a fairly long commute, and it wouldn’t start. Stranded in the snow with a new colleague, I had to wait, shivering, for almost two hours until I was rescued. As much as I love the season, and the clear starry nights that it can bring, it’s not an experience that I’m in any rush to repeat.

Since then, I’ve always kept a box of emergency supplies in the boot of my car as a precaution. I might not have had to use them yet, but knowing that they’re there has been a godsend for my peace of mind. Because of this, I am a firm advocate for all drivers to keep something similar in their vehicle.

What should I include?

The answer to that question varies for each of us, as we’re all going to drive different places, in different cars, at different times. I can however suggest a few things that you might consider leaving in your boot. 

My car gives little warning if I’ve ran out of screenwash, and so I always keep a bottle of it handy. With rain, grit on the roads, and the wind, your windscreen will get dirty much more quickly than at other times of year, and so keeping it clear can be an uphill struggle. Being ready when you need to top it back up might end up being a literal lifesaver.

As well as this you should probably consider some water. You can drink it if you’re stuck somewhere for a long time, you can dilute screenwash, and, in a pinch, you can add it to your radiator to keep the car running (though we recommend using proper coolant). For one of the same reasons, it doesn’t hurt to include some snacks… though honestly, these have never lasted that long in my car. 

A first aid kit can be of great assistance if the worst happens and someone gets hurt. To date, I’ve never had to use mine for anything worse than a minor cut, but the peace of mind it gives me is more valuable than almost anything else I keep in my car.

Anyone who works or plays outside during the colder months can tell you the benefits of having multiple layers of clothing. It might seem basic, but they keep you warm better than just a couple of thicker layers, and it’s much easier to regulate your temperature by taking off a little at a time. There’s no harm in keeping a spare set in the back of the car. 

The last, and arguably the most important, thing is something that very few of us leave the house without. Your phone. With it you can find alternative routes, use it as a torch, locate garages far from home, and even, well, call someone with it in an emergency. I invested in a portable charger a couple of years ago, and I rarely go anywhere without it now. 

Hopefully all that has given you a little something to think about, and will keep you just a bit safer this winter. Drive safe out there.