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Do You Have Your Winter Driving Safety Kit Ready?


The Johnson County Sheriff's Office reminds you that a Winter Storm Warning has been issued for a large portion of our area from the National Weather Service Office in Pleasant Hill thru Thursday. While it seems from time to time that these approaching Winter storms are promoted somewhat like a pay-per-view sporting event, it does make sense to be prepared in the event of many inches of heavy snow, blowing an drifting snow, very cold temperatures with strong winds, sleet, ice and freezing rain.

A small patch of black ice, a brief white-out, or even a moment of inattention and you can find yourself stuck or off the road and waiting for assistance. Many people are under the mistaken impression this happens only during raging winter storms or when traveling a long distance – but that is often not the case.

Preparation makes a difference.  A few minutes gathering and preparing a Winter survival kit is all it takes. Find an old backpack lying around the house or buy a cheap one if necessary. Even a box that will fit in your backseat or trunk will work. A survival kit includes items that might help get you out of a situation and/or attract someone to help you.

Every vehicle should have a long-handled snow brush, a set of jumper cables, a tow rope or strap, and a proper first-aid kit.  Your survival kit should also include a flashlight and extra batteries,  a shovel, and a working cell phone and 12-volt charging cord.  A bag of kitty litter can be an excellent way to create some traction when needed on ice. Some drivers also carry a small basic tool kit consisting of a hammer, pliers, adjustable wrench, multi-purpose screw-driver, knife and roll of duct tape.

You want to draw attention to yourself and your location in the event of being stranded, so take along a couple of flares, a can of fluorescent paint or roll of brightly colored tape to help attract attention to where you are. A small container of lock de-icer can also be used to remove ice from metal or hard-plastic surfaces. It's also a good idea to include some extra clothing for layering, especially gloves, coats and jackets, earmuffs and hats, as well as a large heavy blanket or two.

Energy bars, beef jerky and extra bottled water are also essential. Additionally, if you are travelling with children, it's also a great idea to pack some books, portable games, coloring books with crayons, pencils and notepads to help keep them busy. Hopefully you will never need to use any of these items, but it helps with peace of mind for you and your family that you have them with you while travelling in severe Winter weather conditions.