For those of us living in northern Wisconsin, winter can present particularly hazardous driving conditions. If you’re a parent, it can be very stressful to know your teen is driving in less than ideal conditions. When severe weather strikes, you and your teen should discuss the necessity of their getting behind the wheel. If possible, wait until the storm has passed and the roads have been cleared.

It’s also a good idea to create a winter car kit for each car in the family. It’s best to store the kit in an area other than the trunk (such as floor bins in minivans or the back seat) in case the trunk becomes jammed or frozen shut.

Ready Wisconsin recommends having the following items in a winter survival car kit:

  • Shovel, windshield scraper and small broom
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Water and snacks
  • Matches and small candles
  • Battery powered radio
  • First aid kit and pocket knife
  • Tow chain and/or rope
  • Road salt, sand or cat litter (used for traction in case you get stuck)
  • Booster cables
  • Emergency flares/reflectors
  • Whistle and/or fluorescent distress flag
  • Cell phone adapter that plugs into lighter or 15v socket
  • Extra hats, socks, mittens and boots
  • Blankets or sleeping bag

If you have to drive in stormy or icy conditions, before leaving be certain your gas tank is at least half full and let someone know where you are going and what route you plan to take.

If you do go off the road or get in an accident, Ready Wisconsin recommends the following.

  • Call 911 and follow their instructions.
  • Stay in your vehicle unless instructed otherwise by the 911 operator.
  • Make it easy to be found. Tie the fluorescent flag from your kit to the antenna or hang it out the window. If it’s dark, keep your dome light on. Only turn on your emergency flashers when you hear a vehicle approaching to ensure you don’t run down your battery.
  • If you need to shovel snow away from the exhaust pipe or push your car, take it easy. Don’t risk injuring yourself, or having a heart attack. If you over-exert yourself, you will become sweaty, which can make you vulnerable to hypothermia.
  • Be certain your exhaust system is not plugged with snow as that can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning within your car. It’s best to run the car engine for only about 10 minutes per hour. Always keep a window cracked to ensure fresh air is coming inside.
  • Beware of getting too warm and sleepy as your car may be filling with carbon monoxide without you being aware of it. Step outside and get some fresh air as needed.