Winter Safety Tips for Car Trips

Last winter, driving from San Francisco to Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, I found myself, miles from home and stuck on the highway due to a "white-out" snow storm and road closure. My cell phone wouldn't work (we were, after all, in a blinding blizzard). I worried that my young daughters and I would have to spend the night in the car. We bundled up in sleeping bags, ate all our junk food, finished off the water and waited. At nightfall, after four nail-biting hours, the highway was reopened and we inched our way through the snow to the closest exit (and hotel). Please, learn from my mistakes and be prepared for a wintry worst-case scenario.

The day before you travel, stop at a full-service gas station and ensure that you have:

  • A full tank of gas
  • Plenty of oil
  • Anti-freeze
  • Windshield wiper fluid
  • Inflated tires
  • An ice scraper (if it will be icy or snowy)
  • And just in case, toss these items into the trunk:
  • Several warm blankets or down sleeping bags
  • Hand warmer packets
  • Thermos of hot tea
  • Ample drinking water
  • Filling and nutritious food such as Power Bars, bagels and apples
  • All-weather boots
  • Rain or ski coats with hoods
  • Warm, waterproof hats, gloves and extra socks
  • Two flashlights with fresh batteries
  • Flares (to warn other vehicles of your location in case you are stalled on a dark road at night)
  • A radio (to listen to weather reports and other emergency information)
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