The big freeze is here and with a blanket of snow covering most of the Province this morning, the roads are in a treacherous condition.
The advice is not to travel unless necessary but if you have to make a journey in your car, it’s essential that you are prepared for every eventuality.
A quick look on social media will show you that many people have already had to abandon their cars and walk to their destination or wait patiently in their vehicles for the recovery services to rescue them.
From a first aid kit to warm clothes and blankets, these are the top 15 car essentials that you should always have in your car this winter.
Here are your breakdown kit essentials:
It is a legal requirement to keep your front and rear windscreen clear of snow and ice before driving. An ice scraper still needs manual effort but is effective, while a can or spray bottle of de-icer speeds up the process.
Stuck by the side of a country road in the dark of a winter’s evening? It’s a very real possibility, and without any light it can be a frightening and dangerous situation.
A large torch with spare batteries or a wind-up torch which doesn’t require battery power should definitely be among your breakdown kit essentials.
A breakdown could mean a long wait with no heat, so it’s sensible to have some warm clothes to wrap up in – a big coat, gloves, a spare jumper, hat and gloves.
Not just for the driver, either. Make sure all passengers have warm clothes they can put on to help stay comfortable in freezing temperatures.
Hi-Vis clothing won’t necessarily keep you warm, but if you need to leave the vehicle in the dark it’s critical that you can be seen by other motorists.
One of these could actually save your life and definitely should be included as one of the most important emergency items to keep in your car.
In fact, an item of high visibility jacket clothing is required by law in some European countries, including France and Spain.
You should always drive in sensible footwear but also keep boots in the car during winter weather for safety reasons.
In heavy snow and slippery conditions, you should wear suitable boots with a strong grip if you plan on exiting the vehicle.
Don’t forget a first aid kit in a winter driving checklist to deal with minor injuries.
There is a national standard for first aid provision within motor vehicles, devised by the British Standards Institution (BSI).
A small first aid kit should include sterile cleansing wipes, washproof plasters in assorted sizes, dressings, scissors, nitrile powder-free gloves and a Revive-Aid resuscitation face shield – or similar product.
Flat or dead batteries can happen to any car regardless of age and at any time, but in cold weather such problems are far more likely to occur.
Always have a set of jump start cables or jump leads in the car, which will help to get the battery going again and the car on the move – whether you get assistance from a passing fellow motorist or a roadside recovery from the RAC.
Knowing how to jump start a car is an important skill to learn for all drivers.
Sometimes, your car will grind to a halt simply – and annoyingly – because it has run out of fuel.
This is obviously easily fixed providing you can find your way to a petrol station, and once there you’ll need a can to fill with fuel.
The prospect of being abandoned at the roadside for hours in poor weather conditions is a gloomy one – if you’re hungry it can feel far worse.
If you have children in the car, it’s doubly worse!
Food and drink should surely be considered breakdown kit essentials, with a big flask of hot tea, coffee, hot chocolate or soup high up on the list.
In deep snow – for example if you’re driving on smaller roads which may be relatively untreated – it can be too easy for a vehicle’s wheels to get stuck.
A shovel can help you to literally dig yourself out of such a problem, if boot space is limited why not buy a foldable model?
A reflective warning sign is a legal requirement in many European nations.
It usually comes in the form of a triangle and is used to warn other motorists that your vehicle has broken down to help to avoid collisions.
You need two; one to position in front of the car and the second at the rear.
Ideally, the stand of the sign will be solid, so it’s not easily blown over and the reflective quality makes it visible in the dark.
The signs should be at least 45 metres – that’s 147 feet – behind the car, however, the Highway Code advises to never use them on motorways.
Yes, even in these modern times with Sat Nav systems there’s still a place in a car for a paper-based road atlas in case of diversions or getting lost.
There’s also the possibility that, in the result of a flat battery any electrical devices will be out of action and even after the car is back on the road you may prefer to keep these turned off.
Low winter sun can seriously affect driver visibility, creating a glare which makes it difficult to see the road. Always ensure you have a pair of sunglasses to hand.
Breaking down is not the time for your mobile phone to run out of power, so an in-car charger should always be kept in the car.
If you’ve broken down, a portable battery charger could also be very welcome.
What if you break down somewhere with no phone signal?
If you’re on the motorway you’ll need to locate the nearest emergency phone.
On quieter roads, assess the situation – it may be a case of walking to the nearest house or sitting tight and waiting for a passing motorist to stop and help.
These keys are designed to make sure that your wheel and alloys can’t be stolen. However, they’re also used to change your wheel or tyres following an issue.
This metal, cylindrical tool has a hexagonal shape that is used to remove or tighten the wheel nuts.
Locking wheel nut keys are kept in a small bag or box within your vehicle. Normally, they’re stored underneath the spare wheel in the boot, or in your glove compartment. In some models of cars, the bag or box is stored under one of the seats.
Make sure you know where these are, as you’ll be asked to hand them over to a mechanic after a breakdown so they can try and resolve the problem with your car.
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