Just as we thought the worst of the winter weather was behind us, large amounts of the country are forecast for ice & snow for the rest of the week.
*actually February often has a winter sting in it’s tail. According to my Facebook ‘On This Day’ app a couple of days ago, this was what we were doing…
I’ve been chatting to the folks at Confused.com about driving in cold winter weather – did you know only half of Brits take time to clear ice from the windows, roof and number plate of their cars before driving?
And one in five of us use a bank or loyalty card to clear ice, rather than a proper ice-scraper and/or de-icer!
Especially now, when we all think winter is ‘done’, we’re less vigilant than we possibly would be the first week of January. We are still in winter season, after all, and as such should be prepared for any wintery happenings whenever we travel.
Ironically, just over a week ago I was heading on a rescue mission to the college (No.1 had torn his contact lens, and couldn’t actually see anything…). Using my usual shortcuts through the back lanes, a hideous noise broke through Jenny Murray on Women’s Hour. I’d barely had time to register, turn off the radio and slow down before it was joined by a hideously loud metallic grating sound that was never going to be anything good.
Leaping out and checking under the car, it was blatantly obvious that my exhaust had dropped off – one end was sitting on the road near the drivers seat. The back end was firmly attached though – backing up was potentially okay for a short distance to get to a safe spot, but going forwards was a definite no. I slowly reversed back down the lane to a spot that traffic could pass me by, whipped out my phone and called home to let them know what had happened and not to worry. Then I hung up and called the Breakdown people.
Only I now had no signal.
I walked up and down the lane for five minutes, with zero signal re-appearing.
I walked back in the direction I had come, turning and heading into the nearest village in the hopes of finding some – and thankfully a lovely workman doing road repairs loaned me his (full signal – thanks EE, *shakes fist at Vodafone*) phone so I could call for some actual help.
Mission accomplished, I simply had to wait… It was a grey, overcast day, but not raining, not icy. They couldn’t get to me for over an hour, though, and by the time they arrived I felt like I was frozen to the bone – what wouldn’t I have done for a flask of coffee and a bar of chocolate while I waited!
Of course for even the shortest of journeys there are absolute essentials that should be in your car – how many of these are in yours?
These are the things you shouldn’t leave hime without, and that should be sitting ready and waiting in your car no matter what the season.
- mobile phone – and make sure it’s charged. Most of us won’t leave home without this one, but charged? yeah. often not…
- Sunglasses – I keep my prescription ones in the car, you randomly need them at any time of year. In winter just as much as summer, with surprise bursts of light from a very low sun.
- First aid kit. You just never know.
- A map. Yes we all have satnav on our phones, but what if there’s no signal?
- Water. Just in case.
These are pretty important to keep ever-present in colder weather:
- A warm blanket – so handy, not just for emergencies. Ours gets pulled out by chilly back-seat passengers all the time. A spare fleece or sweater never gets regretted, either.
- Shovel – seems mad, until you get stuck in the snow. And don’t be thinking huge garden spade; just a small fold-up shovel will do, honest!
- Torch – check batteries regularly, and keep spare ones too. We strongly recommend the Coleman Battery Lock Torch – you can disconnect the batteries to prevent them draining.
- Snacks – biscuits, chocolate or cereal bars. High energy is essential if you’re stuck in the cold.
- Scraper & De-Icer – a decent scraper is essential (personally I love the ones that have a glove to keep frozen fingers protected if you’re not wearing good gloves), and a De-Icer spray too (I hate that thin rock-hard ice that refuses to be scraped!).
- Extra screenwash – keep the washers topped up regularly, and always add screenwash with de-icer included at this time of year. Essential on dirty, gritty roads.
If you’re setting off on a longer trip in winter, it’s a good idea to add to your supplies;
- If you’ve not already packed them, make sure you have a full set of warm outdoor clothing on hand, including hat, gloves and scarf.
- Decent boots – getting out on the side of the ride is horrible in winter weather. Do it in a pair of thin ballet flats at your peril.
- A flask of hot drink.
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