It’s a lot easier to get around by car in the Winter, especially if you get caught out by snowy conditions, if you’re prepared.
A warm coat is essential (even if you leave a spare one in the back of your car) with an extra pair of thermal type gloves and a hat. Anyone who’s had to wait outside their vehicle awaiting a rescue service (It’s not safe to remain in your car – especially on Motorways, when you should exit your vehicle via the passenger side and stand behind the verge barrier) will tell you it gets cold very quickly. Even if it’s safe to remain inside your vehicle, it will soon turn cold very quickly indeed.
Why not leave some wellington boots and an extra pair of thick socks in the boot as well? Most ‘everyday’ footwear soon leaks when you’re walking/standing in anything more than a few millimetres of snow or slush. Keeping warm and dry is essential.
Travel rugs or fleecy blankets are ideal to wrap around yourself – some people even carry sleeping bags just in case. You can now buy those ‘foil’ emergency blankets (like they wrap around accident victims or marathon runners) from outdoor centres for only a few pounds. Small and compact (when unopened) they’re a useful addition to your car’s glove box.
Carry a piece of old rug or sack and a shovel (in case you get stuck in snow or can help someone else out). Use the sack / rug by putting it under the wheel you need traction on – it’ll give the wheel something to grip to – especially if you find yourself stuck on a car park, verge or lay-by etc.
If you’re forced to abandon your car due to the conditions, try to leave it so it’s not blocking other vehicles – especially snow ploughs etc when the thaw comes.
If you’re going on a long journey or on unfamiliar roads, pack a chocolate bar and a drink etc. It’s not unheard of for motorists to spend long hours in stationary traffic on motorways, especially during bad weather.
Having a piece of thick cardboard or a travel rug in the boot also makes crawling around on the ground to change a tyre or inspect for damage so much comfier and easier. Those garden kneeling pads are ideal as they don’t soak up water.
Pack a motoring atlas in the car – you never know when you’re going to have to detour. Keep smart navigation devices or phones fully charged.
A little routine maintenance – tyre pressures, oil and water levels and critically – you’re windscreen washer bottle fluid (with a windscreen cleaning agent at Winter mix), will all help you and your car to arrive safely. Always carry a window scraper (de-icer may also be useful).
Finally, add some very un-cool (but comfortable) sunglasses (sunshine in Winter is often low and dazzlingly bright) and a CD collection that’ll make the kids cringe and that’s about it. Remember local radio stations are useful for traffic and road conditions updates.
Wherever you’re travelling over the festive season (and beyond) take care, and remember if your journey isn’t absolutely essential, then you’re better off not attempting it.
Top Tip: If your car is covered in snow, clear off all the windows, roof, bonnet and headlamps/rear lights before you drive off. Snow accumulation on your roof can slide down in front of you blocking your vision when you brake. Snow can reduce your lights visibility to that of a candle and snow blowing off your bonnet onto your windscreen can cause it’s own visibility problems. Why make it harder for yourself?
An old wiper blade is ideal for this.
photo credit: john onolan
This story featured in our weekly homeowner newsletter – 29th November 2010