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Blizzard 2015: What You Need to Have in Your Car Now

Don't be caught out in the cold if the coming blizzard shuts down the highway. Here's what you need to have in your car before the first flake falls.
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A big blizzard is headed for the Northeast and threatens to bury New York City and nearby areas in the deepest snow ever seen. If it comes down fast enough, it will close roads, even busy interstates, stranding motorists.

Being ready can make the difference between life and death in some cases. Just last November, a storm that dumped more than 5 feet of snow on Buffalo stranded truckers and other motorists for 36 hours and longer, and in 2010 a big blizzard that hit the Northeast forced motorists to stay in immobilized cars for upward of 24 hours.

Here's a checklist of what you should have in your car in case you get stuck:

(It goes without saying that you need to have these items in your car before it starts snowing.)

  • Small shovel
  • Bag of cat litter or sand to provide traction
  • Sweater/jacket/blanket
  • Socks and snow boots. You may have to get out of the car and push, or even hike to shelter.
  • Hats
  • Trail mix
  • Water
  • Flashlight and reflectors/distress flag
  • Mylar insulation sheet. They're small and fold up flat and hold body heat efficiently.
  • Pocket warmers
  • Portable cellphone charger. Once you've run your car out of gas, you'll be unable to charge that phone.
  • Ice scraper
  • Ropes or chains
  • Packaged foods
  • Basic toolkit, including jumper cables
  • Matches

Be sure to have a family communication plan and phone tree for emergencies. Before you travel, make sure someone has your travel plans and approximate location.

Make sure your gas tank is never below half-full. Make sure you have antifreeze in your cooling system and plenty of wiper fluid — cars throwing up wet slush on salted roads can block your vision in a flash.

Don't leave your vehicle unless it's absolutely necessary. A car makes good shelter even after the gas runs out. If you run the car to keep it warm, make sure snow is cleared from around the exhaust pipe to make sure odorless but deadly carbon monoxide doesn't back into the car.


— Nancy Snyderman and Maggie Fox