GET HOME & VEHICLE BAGS
What to pack in your vehicle and get home bags.
It could be any time of the year, but winter is more hazardous.
It would be best to have a emergency breakdown kit for your vehicle and a get home bag, if you have to leave your vehicle for any reason. You wouldn't need lots of items and it would stay in your vehicle.
Lets go through a list of the most important items.
Emergency Vehicle Bag
Ice scraper and de-icer
These are basic items but winter must-haves nonetheless.
It is a legal requirement to keep your front and rear windscreen clear of snow and ice before driving and not all cars have heated windscreens to speed up this process.
An ice scraper still needs manual effort but is effective, while a can or spray bottle of de-icer speeds up the process.
In wintry conditions you will need to do this before setting off but both items need to be kept in the car ahead of the return journey - or in the event of being stranded somewhere, with the windscreen frosting over.
Torch and spare batteries
Stuck by the side of a country road in the dark of a winter's evening with a flat battery? 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. I have brought myself a couple of torches, that also have a side light with red and white emergency strobe. It's also magnetic, so I can attach to my car.
Warm clothes and blankets
Motorists often feel more comfortable driving without a thick coat but you should still travel with one in the car.
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.
Hand held fans
On the flip side, it could be extremely hot, so an fan would help you to cool down.
High-Visibility 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.
Boots with a good grip
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.
An alternative or added extra could be snow grips to slide on over shoes. Either way, footwear that prevents you from slipping over is necessary.
First aid kit
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, wash proof plasters in assorted sizes, dressings, scissors, nitrile powder-free gloves and a Revive-Aid resuscitation face shield - or similar product.
Of course, having a first aid kit in the car is good practice at any time of the year.
Jump start cables
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. Also you can now get a jump start power pack, very handy if no one is around to help.
Empty fuel can
Some breakdowns aren't due to a flat battery, engine failure, or a mechanical fault.
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.
When I go on a long journey, I fill up a 20lt jerry can and secure it in the boot.
Food and drink
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? Also digging out may not help a lot. I carry a small bag of kitty litter, the granule stuff, great for traction.
In-car phone charger - and a portable battery charger
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.
Two reflective warning signs
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.
A road atlas
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.
Get home bag
I also have a get home bag. It has everything that I would need if getting home was not that easy.
It is up to you what the essentials would be:
1 Litre of Water in a Metal Container.
3-6 Energy Bars.
Rain Poncho or jacket.
Walking Shoes / Hiking Boots. (You may have this already in the car kit).
A Change of weather appropriate clothing and spare socks and underwear.
Fire Starting Tools and Prepared Fire Tinder.
Quality Multi-Tool. (Also may be in you EDC pack).
First aid kit.
Extra torch 0r a head torch and spare batteries.
Some glow sticks.
GPS or maps.
A knife (remember the law though).
Solar charger, fully charged.
Emergency signal mirror and a compass.
A decent quality bag or rucksack to put it in. 40lt bag should do it, with room to spare.
Also these are all lightweight items, it should be no more than 10kgs.
You may also have, freeze dried meals, a cyclone stove and gas.