Is Your Car Storm Ready? A Look at Multi-tools and Other Necessities

Snow Storm, Near Cedar Breaks, UtahWhen disaster strikes, it is common to hear newscasts about preparing your home and family for an emergency, as well as creating an emergency preparedness kit that includes a multi-tool, LED flashlight and a headlamp. However, it is just as important to prepare a kit for your car in the event you get caught in a storm. A roadside or weather emergency generally occurs when you least expect, so it’s best to make sure all your vehicles are storm-ready now – and equipped with an LED flashlight or headlamp – before you end up wishing you had.

Making Your Car Storm Ready

Even if you are a member of a roadside assistance program, it can take several hours for help to reach you when conditions are poor. Being unprepared can compromise the safety of you and your passengers as well as cause unneeded stress. The following tips will help you be prepared if you need to weather a storm:

Pre-Storm Auto Maintenance Checklist

  • Antifreeze: Levels are adequate.
  • Brakes: Fluid levels are normal and wear is nominal.
  • Battery: Does not have a problem keeping a charge, and the terminals are clean.
  • Exhaust system. Check for and repair leaks, and replace or repair crimped pipes.
  • Thermostat, heater and defroster: All are functional.
  • Fuel: Always have a full tank of gas.
  • Air filter: Replace if needed.
  • Oil: Levels are adequate and lubricate well in low temperatures.
  • Lights: All work well, including hazard lights.
  • Windshield wipers: Work well and have sufficient power washing fluid.
  • Tires: install studded tires (if permitted in your area) or keep chains in your trunk.

Winter Weather Preparedness Auto Kit

Pack the following in addition to your regular auto emergency kit. It is a good thing to have duplicate emergency items so you can unpack your car without worrying about remembering to repack certain materials.

  • Snow shovel
  • Tire chains
  • Sand or cat litter to help improve traction if you get stuck in the snow
  • Rock salt to melt ice
  • Windshield scraper
  • Small broom to dust off snow
  • Extra blankets, hats, socks and mittens
  • Waterproof matches
  • Flares
  • Battery-powered emergency cell phone charger
  • Reflective, fluorescent distress flag and road triangle
  • Extra antifreeze

Year-Round Auto Emergency Kit

  • Fire extinguisher
  • LED flashlight
  • LED headlamp
  • Drinking water
  • Snacks that will not perish in hot or cold weather
  • Waterproof matches
  • Flares
  • Emergency road triangle
  • Multi-tool that has a pocket knife and screwdriver
  • Emergency cash
  • Emergency medication
  • Blanket
  • Jumper cables that measure 12 feet or a portable battery booster
  • Road flares
  • First aid kit
  • Reflective, fluorescent distress flag
  • Battery-powered radio
  • Extra batteries
  • Battery-powered emergency cell phone charger
  • List of emergency contact numbers
  • Tools, including pliers, vice grips, adjustable wrench and multi-tool
  • Tire inflator
  • Tire pressure gauge
  • Duct tape
  • Pen or pencil
  • Pad of paper

Packing Your Car

While it may seem as if you need the largest SUV on the market to haul all these items, keep in mind that many are small or come in compact forms. Familiarize yourself with all of the items and know how they work, particularly the multi-tool, headlamp, jumper cables and traction equipment. If you have a small vehicle, use your best judgment when deciding which items to leave out of your emergency kit. Pack most of the items in a plastic tub so they do not roll around in your trunk. However, place essential items you may need right away in the glove compartment or in a backpack you keep on the backseat. Such items may include like an LED flashlight, pen and paper, important numbers, batteries and a reflective road triangle.

Take a couple of evenings to make sure you know how to pull your car over to a safe spot in an emergency, and review basic survival techniques. Such techniques can include surviving in cold weather, first aid and safely seeking help.

[ photo by: Alex E. Proimos, on Flickr, via CC License ]

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