How to prepare for winter driving

A couple months ago, I made an executive decision to drive to work on practically fumes. Mind you, I only live ten minutes away from the office, so I was more than confident I could make it, and even with some fuel to spare.

No more than three minutes down the road with town limits in sight, I could feel chugging. My heart completely sank and within seconds, the little Toyota Corolla which has never failed to get me from point A to point B, slowed to a halt. Each light in the car suddenly lit up signaling some small beacon of hope, but then turned off with absolute certainty.

After that, there was nothing but silence, pure silence and the sound of an occasional passing car with clearly more gas in their tank than I.

Just as quickly as I realized what had happened, I was dialing CAA. This is a company has become a savior to all who are at the mercy of a non-functional vehicle, like myself.

Let me tell you, having the tow truck drive you to the local gas station is not a Monday morning that anyone wants to experience.

If that’s not enough, my first week on the job consisted of our general manager coming out to change my tire after I ran over a nail in our parking lot. (I now consider this a vital life skill and have taught myself how to do this like a pro may I add.)

I do a lot of commuting for my job. Each weekend I travel back home to Saint John, which has left me time to reflect on the gas incident, the incredibly embarrassing tire changing episode, and of course the “what if’s.” What if something of this nature was to happen in a terrible snow storm or any other extreme weather condition you’re not prepared for?

Things definitely would have turned out much, much worse. To say I have become ultra-aware of any suspicious noise my car makes, is an understatement. Let’s just say I always make sure that I have more than enough gas for wherever I may be going. Coming out of these experiences, I wanted to be prepared for anything that could happen to both myself, or my car while driving- especially during extreme winter weather.

Below is a compiled list of things to consider before you leave, and objects that you should keep both in your car at easy access, and in the trunk for more severe situations.
I hope this helps you as much as it has for me.

Before leaving

• Make sure you have plenty of gas in the car
• Check the anti-freeze levels
• Use windshield wiper fluid that’s meant for winter driving
• Check the tire pressure
• Make sure you are not overdue for an oil change
• Test the defrost
• Make sure your cell phone is completely charged
• Check break lights
• Pump the break’s a couple times to ensure proper function


Emergency Kit (Durable backpack or bag kept inside the car under the driver’s seat)

• Food items that can be kept for long periods of time (energy bars, soda crackers, trail mix, or peanut butter
• At least two bottles of water
• Warm blanket
• A basic first aid kit
• Candle in a deep can with matches (remember to open a window for Oxygen if using)
• Wind-up flashlight
• A small snowbrush
• Seatbelt cutter (one inside your emergency kit and one clipped to the driver’s visor for easy access)


tems to keep in the trunk of your car

• A small bag of sand or salt
• Extra anti-freeze
• Jumper cables
• Warning light
• Portable caution cones
• Tow rope
• Shovel and scraper
• Tire iron
• Extra winter boots
• Warm clothes (kept dry and neat in the zip lock bag)

If you are not already a CAA member, consider calling them, or a similar agent and keep their number handy!


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