Winter is here, which means that it’s more important than ever to make sure you have essential items in your car to keep you safe. Taking precautions now could save your life later if you find yourself far from help and stuck in the car in a snowstorm or when temperatures dip to dangerous lows.
“The cold weather can be very dangerous, especially if you are a diabetic with low blood sugar, a smoker with impaired circulation or someone with heart disease,” Robert Blankenship, MD, FACEP, medical director of emergency medicine at Mercy Health – West Hospital, says. “When your body temperature drops below 95 degrees Fahrenheit, you develop hypothermia. Signs of hypothermia include drowsiness, confusion, slurred speech, a weak pulse or shallow breathing.”
If you can avoid driving in bad winter weather, do so. However, if you must travel, the American Red Cross suggests that you keep the following items in your car:
- A shovel
- Windshield scraper
- A small broom
- Battery powered radio
- Extra batteries
- Extra set of clothes, including hats, socks and mittens
- First aid kit
- Pocket knife
- Booster cables
- Emergency flares
- Fluorescent flag
- Sand or cat litter (a traction aid)
“You may also want to consider having a spare portable charger for your cell phone to ensure you can keep your cell phone operational until help arrives,” Dr. Blankenship adds.
And if you are travelling with a pet, don’t forget to have a supply of your pet’s food with you, too.
The National Highway Travel Safety Administration recommends that you check your local weather and traffic reports before heading out. If your roads are not in good shape, consider postponing non-essential travel until the roads are cleared.
“If you can’t delay your travel and do have to go out, make sure you are prepared with these essential items. They really can make a life-or-death difference in extreme circumstances,” Dr. Blankenship says.
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