What you should keep in your car during winter months, in case of emergency

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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — With subzero temperatures predicted for the next few weeks, it’s important to make sure your car is prepared in the event of an emergency.

It’s not uncommon for vehicles to slide into snowbanks or ditches during icy conditions. A state trooper tells us that throwing a few items in your trunk could save your life.

“Call for help or try to call state Police or state patrol trying to get some help,” said one traveler Laurie Lechtenberg.

Getting stranded when temperatures are in the single digits and wind chills below zero can be deadly.

“Just be prepared for any type of situation. It can really pay off for you,” said ISP Master Sargeant Brent Massingill.

ISP say the most important reminder is not to panic.

“Generally speaking, staying in your vehicle is the safest place for you some of the weather. We’ve had some blinding snowstorms and if you get out and walk in that in these cold temperatures you’re not going to last long out there walking,” said Master Sergeant Massingill.

Massingill says during the winter months, make sure to keep a phone charger and water bottle, along with blankets or anything to keep yourself warm in your car.

We caught up with some drivers at the Belvidere Oasis some seem like they’re ready for anything. while others not so much.

“I carry, you know, a couple of weeks supply worth of food, blankets, a gas heater you know in case something happens,” said one truck driver, Rodney Armstrong.

If you end up stuck for some time, you’ll need to make sure your car stays clear.

“One thing to remember if you do get stuck in a snowdrift, be aware of your vehicle exhaust. Get out every now and then clear space for that exhaust to make sure it doesn’t come into the vehicle and have issues with carbon monoxide,” Massingill explained.

It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

“If you get stranded you’re stuck in the snow call 9-1-1, that certainly possibly is an emergency situation do notify us and we’ll try to get to you,” Massingill said.

See below for a full list of tips.

  • Plan ahead and ask yourself, “is this trip necessary?”, before you head out.
  • Prior to the winter weather season, make sure your vehicle is prepared.
    • Make sure your windshield wipers are not worn.
    • Be sure to check all of the vehicle’s fluid levels.

Check to make sure your tires are properly inflated and that they have sufficient tread.

  • Allow extra time to get to your destination.
  • Avoid unnecessary lane changes, reduce your speed, and increase your following distance on snowy or ice covered roadways.
  • Move over and slow down for emergency vehicles, including snowplows. If you are stranded on the side of the road, ensure to activate your hazard lights. Vehicles must move over, if possible, and/or slow down for any stationary vehicle on the side of the roadway with hazard lights activated.
  • Ensure you keep plenty of gas in your tank in case your vehicle becomes stranded. 
  • Clear ice and snow from your vehicle windows and lights.
  • Don’t crowd the plow – remember, a snowplow operator’s field of vision is restricted. You may see them, but they may not see you.
  • Watch out for unnoticeable ice – roads that appear clear may be treacherous. Take it slow when approaching intersections, off-ramps, bridges, and shady areas during icy conditions.       
  • Do not travel unless absolutely necessary – if you do have to make a trip, check the forecast and plan ahead with safety in mind.
  • Dress warmly for the weather-dress in layers of loose-fitting, lightweight clothing in anticipation of unexpected winter weather emergencies.
  • Make sure someone is aware of your travel plans.  If traveling a long distance, let someone know your route and estimated departure and arrival time.
  • Make sure your cell phone is fully charged.  Also be sure to keep a cell phone charger with you in your vehicle. 
  • Always carry an emergency car care kit that contains jumper cables, flares or reflectors, windshield washer fluid, a small ice scraper, traction material, blankets, non-perishable food and a first aid kit.
  • Always wear a safety belt.
  • Please slow down and pay attention to the road if you must drive during inclement weather.

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