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Insurance Advisors' Newsletter
December 2014

Roadside Emergency Kit:
Don’t Get Caught Unprepared

By Susan Cormier for Insurance Advisors


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IA Team

With some of the frigid temperatures we’ve already been experiencing in Colorado, we thought it would be a good time to remind you that you should keep a winter emergency kit in your vehicle.

While we hope you don’t have a roadside emergency, we want you to be prepared. An emergency, such as a flat tire, mechanical breakdown or lack of gasoline, can happen at any time, but the odds increase in the winter months when the cold, snow and ice are especially hard on your car. 

If you get stranded on an extremely cold day, you want to make sure you are equipped to keep yourself comfortable and safe until help arrives.

You probably already have the normal year-round emergency items in your vehicle, such as a first-aid kit, warning flares, jumper cables, foam tire sealant, and jack and lug wrench. You probably even have a few winter-type items in your car, such as spare winter gloves, a winter hat and windshield scraper. But there are still some additional items you can add to stay safer and warmer in the case of an unexpected mishap. These include:

A blanket or sleeping bag.  These will give you an added layer of protection – and warmth - while you wait for help.  

A snow shovel. A short-handled or folding camping-style shovel will come in handy if you need to remove snow from around the wheels of your vehicle. A metal shovel will probably work better than a plastic one – in case you need to chip away at ice or compacted snow.

Hand warmers. Available at sporting goods stores and even Costco, these little packets will keep your hands warm when you are changing a tire or fiddling with the engine.

Bottles of water and snack foods, such as energy bars or trail mix. These don’t take much room and can keep you sustained in an emergency.

Tire chains and tow strap. You never know when you may need to be pulled from a ditch. 

Bag of cat litter, road salt or sand. This will add weight to your vehicle and will help provide some traction on an especially slick or icy road surface.

A siphon pump. If you are out of gas and a Good Samaritan stops to help, you’ll want to be able to get a couple gallons of gas out of the Samaritan’s gas tank to get you on your way.

If you do become stranded, please:

Avoid overexertion. When you shovel snow or push your car, it takes a lot of effort in cold, snowy conditions. It can make you hot and sweaty. And wet clothing can lose insulation value and make you susceptible to hypothermia. You also don’t want to risk a heart attack or other injury.

Stay in your vehicle. It is very dangerous to walk in a storm because you can easily become lost or exhausted. Your vehicle offers good shelter from the elements.

One good tip for reducing your risk of an emergency is to keep your gas tank at least half full. That will pretty much eliminate the possibility that you’ll run out of gas. And, if you do find yourself stranded in the cold, you’ll be able to run the engine 10 minutes every hour to warm up the vehicle. But make sure the exhaust pipe is free of snow so you aren’t overcome by deadly carbon monoxide gas. 


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