William W. Hurst, Indianapolis Personal Injury Lawyer
It’s the middle of Winter and your car breaks down, you pull over and attempt to restart it, nothing. You look down at your cell phone and realize it died 5 minutes ago. Now you’re just sitting in a vehicle with no power, watching cars pass by you. 10 minutes go by and you begin to get cold because your heat can’t operate if the car won’t turn on. 20 minutes go by and still no one has stopped so you decide to try to walk to the nearest gas station, but you realize the coat you wore on your way to work today was more for show than staying warm. What do you do? How could you have been more prepared?
During the Winter roads the roads can be slippery and the temperatures frigid. During this time of year it’s not uncommon to see vehicles either pulled over to side of the road or in a ditch having slipped off it. Whether the car has malfunctioned or the driver lost control of the vehicle it’s likely that the vehicle is without power, meaning there is no heat, creating a dangerous situation for the vehicle’s occupants. While it’s easy to drive by someone in that situation, it isn’t easy being that person. Unless of course you’re prepared. This blog is to help ensure you are prepared just in case you find yourself in this unfriendly situation. Here, we’ll list a few things every person should have in their car at all times and a few more specifically for when temperatures are low.
A Charged Cell Phone: Even if it isn’t cold outside, having a cellphone is critical in case of an emergency. You may need to call 9-1-1 if you’re in an accident or call a friend or family member if your car breaks down. It’s not a bad idea to get a nice car charger for your cell phone, one that actually charges it as opposed to the $5 chargers that do almost nothing. It’s also not a bad idea to put your phone in airplane mode while driving to conserve battery life, this has the added bonus of making sure you aren’t tempted to use your phone while driving since you won’t receive any incoming calls or texts. You may also want to keep a charged auxiliary battery in your glove compartment. They are relatively cheap and allow you to charge a battery at home, put it in your car, and use it in emergency situations, like when your phone and car are dead and you’re stranded on the side of the road. This also becomes more important when it’s cold. You don’t want to be stranded on the side of the road for too long when it’s freezing outside.
Tire Iron, Jack, and a Spare Tire: While a donut (smaller spare), jack, and tire iron come in most cars, they are often used and never replaced or taken out of the car for no apparent reason. This could be incredibly inconvenient if you ever blow a tire. Without the necessary tools you won’t be able to change your tire, you’ll probably have to call a tow truck (which would be impossible without a cell phone), and you’ll likely be there a while (which would be terrible if it’s cold outside).
Jumper Cables/Self-Jumping Charger: The use here is obvious, but far too often people end up stranded with a dead battery and don’t have cables. Just in case you don’t want to ask someone else to help you jump your car, they also sell self-jump chargeable batteries for around $80. These often double as air compressors, which could help if you have a low tire or need to air up your spare. Just charge it at home and leave it in your trunk. You never know when you might need it.
First Aid Kit: If someone is injured it may be necessary to do some preventative care until an ambulance arrives. So, you should keep a well equipped first-aid kit in your car at all times.
Flares and Flash Light: In the dark it’s very hard for people to see your car if it’s lights won’t turn on. This creates an incredibly dangerous scenario. To remedy this you should keep road flares in your vehicle that you can put around your car if you break down. And you should keep a flashlight as well. changing a tire in the dark is pretty difficult without one.
Blankets: If you’re stuck for a long period of time blankets will help you keep warm. As a rule of thumb, try to keep as many blankets in your car as you have possible passengers.
Warm Coat: Many people don’t like wearing big bulky coats all day because they don’t look as sharp as a sleek pea-coat or soft-shell. But if you’re stranded on the side of the road and your only option is to walk up the road to the gas station, you will most certainly want to have a heavy coat on. If you don’t always wear one when it’s cold, put one or two in your trunk.
Snow Shovel: If you slide off the side of the road you may have to shovel yourself out. Keep either a standard shovel or a collapsible one in your car during the Winter.