(CNN) – If you’ve ever been stranded in your car because of a bad winter storm—as were many Virginians this week—being prepared can be the difference between survival and serious damage or death.
Because of these risks, “it’s important to always be prepared and caught in a situation that becomes dangerous or potentially fatal,” said CNN meteorologist Jennifer. Could.” Grey.
“Just as we prepare for hurricane season – even if no storm hits our place, it is better to be prepared,” she said.
Gray speaks from experience. “I learned it the hard way—the Atlanta snow jam in 2014. I was stuck on the road for 15 hours, and there was nothing in my car,” she said. “It was incredibly scary.”
No matter where you live, “No part of America can handle a road turning into an ice rink,” Gray said. “It doesn’t matter how good you are as a driver in the winter season.” But if you just have to travel, here’s how to prepare in case you face inclement weather this winter.
winterizing your car
Have your vehicle serviced as often as the manufacturer recommends and do the following, the CDC advises:
• Have the radiator system serviced or have the antifreeze level checked with an antifreeze tester. Add antifreeze as needed.
• Replace windshield wiper fluid with a winter-appropriate mixture (which will contain additives to prevent freezing).
• Make sure the tires have adequate tread and air pressure, which you can measure with a tire gauge. Replace bad tires and fill your tires with air less than the recommended pressure for your car.
• Keep the gas tank near full to help avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines.
• Keep your car in perfect condition by checking heater, defroster, brakes, brake fluid, ignition, emergency flashers, exhaust, oil and battery.
preparation and packing
A person puts a snow chain on his tire while parking in snowy conditions.
For such purposes, these organizations recommend that you pack the following items:
• Non-perishable, high-energy foods such as nuts, granola bars, dried fruits, peanut butter or beef jerky
• Extra bottled water (Using an insulated bottle can help prevent freezing.)
• Cup or floating cup in which you can melt ice — using a waterproof match — for drinking water
• First aid kit including adhesive bandages, medical tape, antiseptic wipes, gauze pads, antiseptic cream, medical wrap and pocketknife
• Rags and hand sanitizer (such as baby wipes)
• Books, games or DVDs for children’s possession, if applicable
• Hats, wool socks, coats, arm and leg warmers, gloves, scarves and blankets (which you can use to both cover and insulate your car by putting it in your windows)
• Hiking shoes (especially important if you have to leave your car)
• sleeping bag
• Rain Poncho
Equipment, distress signals and navigation
• Battery powered flashlight, extra battery and flare
• A brightly colored cloth that you can tie to your vehicle’s antenna or secure over your rolled-up window to make sure you are visible
• A cell phone (which you must fully charge beforehand) and portable cell phone charger
• Jumper cable, booster cable with fully charged battery or external battery charger to start your car when battery is low
• Basic Tool Kit
• Battery operated radio with spare battery
• Small fire extinguisher (5-pounder, Class B or Class C type) in case of car fire
• Tire gauge to check pressure
• Canned compressed air with sealant for emergency tire repair
• Tire or tow chain
• Glass scraper to clean windows
• Small, collapsible shovel for removing snow from the exhaust pipe, as a blocked exhaust pipe can cause sick or lethal carbon monoxide gas to leak into the vehicle while the engine is running
• sand or cat litter to gain traction
• Road Salt
• Anti-jalling fuel additive if your vehicle runs on diesel
• Additional winter windshield wipers and antifreeze
• General car emergency kit you should have in any weather: local and regional road maps, garbage bags, toilet paper, paper towels and gas cans.
• Jack and lug wrench for changing tires
• duct tape
• Foam tire sealant for small tire punctures
• Scissors and lanyard or rope
• Extra change and cash
behavior to avoid
You can exercise in your vehicle to keep warm, but don’t tire yourself out while doing so or cleaning your windows or exhaust pipes. Turning your car on for about 10 minutes every hour — and then turning it off for the rest of the hour — can help you save gas and ensure you’re able to generate some heat at times.
At night, keep your dome light on if possible, as it uses only a small amount of electricity and can help rescuers find you.
If you see a truck spreading salt and gravel, don’t try to cross it. The gravel can bounce up and break your windshield.
CNN’s Jason Hanna, Steve Almasy, Alisha Ibrahimji, Jennifer Grey, Marnie Hunter, Forrest Brown and Jamie Gumbrech contributed to this story.