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Preparedness Spotlight: 11 Items to Keep in Your Car This Winter

Credit: Getty Images

‘Tis the season for mittens, earmuffs, scarves and parkas. Winter is upon us, and if you are in the Maryland and Washington, D.C., areas, plunging temperatures could make way for the four-letter        S-word — snow.

At Johns Hopkins, staff in many roles — physicians, nurses, nutritionists, environmental services staff and so many more — are required to come to work in the snow because the care of our patients depends on them.

“Thousands of staff members report to work despite the weather conditions outside,” says Lauren Sauer, CEPAR’s director of operations. “Snow, sleet and ice can really put a damper on a commute. Even the most skilled drivers can get stuck or become stranded, so it’s important to take precautions.”

CEPAR recommends ensuring these items are in your car to prepare for winter-related emergencies:

  • Ice scraper with snowbrush: Keep this handy to allow for better clearing of your windows and lights before traveling.
  • Shovel: Having a full-size or foldable full-size shovel in your trunk will make digging your car out easier. Smaller shovels can easily break in heavy snow.
  • Sand or kitty litter: Not only will the added weight of the bag help with traction for rear-wheel vehicles, pouring sand or kitty litter by your tires can help if your car is stuck.
  • Portable phone charger/battery: If your cellphone battery dies, you can easily charge it with a phone charger kept in your car. If you are unable to start your car, a portable battery can power up your phone.
  • Hazard triangles, reflectors or battery-powered flashers: If you get into an accident, these will alert other drivers on the road as well as mark your location.
  • Jumper cables: Cold weather can drain your car battery. Jumper cables restart your car and get you back on the road.
  • Gas container: Never store fuel in your trunk, but keeping a gas container in your car will be helpful in getting gas at the nearest gas station and can save your car from being towed.
  • Flashlight: Store a flashlight in your car for changing a tire, jump-starting your car, walking to get assistance in the dark and much more. A handheld flashlight is more durable than a smartphone flashlight.
  • Nonperishable snacks and water: If you are stuck in your car for hours or days, nonperishable snacks and bottles of water can be lifesavers.
  • First-aid kit: If you are injured in an accident, having a first-aid kit on hand can be useful in any cold weather crisis.
  • Blanket: A blanket will keep you warm in the event that you need to stay in your car for an extended period of time.

Before hitting the road in severe winter weather, staff members at The Johns Hopkins University should check the university’s alert webpage or call the emergency phone line: 410-516-7781. Patients can call clinics directly or check MyChart, the online patient portal, to find out about changes in clinic operations.

Be sure to check with your individual institution for further details on policies and procedures relating to inclement weather. Policy information can be found here for Johns Hopkins Medicine and here for The Johns Hopkins University.

For additional tips to consider before and during a winter storm, check out CEPAR’s winter storm safety tips.

Related articles:

What Happens When Winter Weather Whirls In
How to Be Ready for Emergencies

Read more news and information from CEPAR’s Hopkins on Alert.