Roadside emergencies are no fun. Roadside emergencies in the dead of winter are downright miserable and, in some cases, can be dangerous. When icy and snowy conditions start to affect the roads, its best to keep a winter survival kit in your car.
In this post, we are going to talk about the most important things to keep in your winter car survival kit.
When you are stuck out in the winter cold, keeping warm is of paramount importance. In some instances, you may be able to keep your car running and simply use the heater. This comes with its own concerns, too. Do you have enough gas to do so and get to a gas station to refuel after your emergency? Also, if you are in packed snow, the act of running the engine could cause carbon monoxide to build up inside the car, which can be deadly.
Instead, keep a good size candle, a lighter, and a metal can (such as a used paint can). Just put the candle in the can and light it. You would be surprised how much heat this can generate when you need it most.
Something as small as an LED flashlight (and fresh batteries) can be a huge help in an emergency situation. Because winter is noted for, among other things, its lack of sunlight, odds are you could have an emergency in the dark. A small flashlight is perfect for use when changing a flat tire or checking under the hood. If you need to take/make notes about your situation, the flashlight helps you see those notes. You can even use it to help signal for help if the opportunity presents itself.
Cell Phone Charger
What's worse than having a roadside emergency? How about having a roadside emergency with phone that has a low or dead battery? Anymore, the key to getting help in a winter roadside emergency or any roadside, or any emergency for that matter, is the ability to call for help, be it 911, a wrecker, your insurance company, and the like. With a charged cell phone, your odds of escaping your emergency quickly and with minimal damage are greatly increased.
Paper and Pen/Pencil
If you get into an accident, you'll need to take down information from the other driver(s) with regards to insurance details. Also, if you are calling your insurance company for roadside assistance, they may give you numbers to take down, such as a claim number or the name/number of the towing company that will be servicing you.
A simple notepad is plenty for your paper needs. While the ink in pens is often easier to read on the paper, especially in low-light situations, ink can freeze when its really cold and make it difficult to write. While a pencil won't freeze, it might not write dark enough to be read in low light. So, it's best to keep both in your kit.
An Air Compressor
To be honest, this is an item you should probably keep in your trunk all year round. In winter, though, it's particularly useful. Imagine you have a blowout while driving. Fortunately, you have a spare. You put on the spare only to discover that it is flat or almost flat. Just imagine how frustrating that would be. Keeping an air compressor in your vehicle helps to ensure proper tire pressure at all times and reduce the chances of having a tire-related emergency.
Basic Tool Kit
If you keep a full tool box in your vehicle, that is great. You, however, would be in the minority here. For most drivers, a small bag with a few screwdrivers, adjustable wrench, pliers, and duct tape can be a real life saver in situations where minor problems can be tightened up or patched up enough to get you to a shop that can perform a necessary repair.
In winter vehicle emergencies, ice and snow can make traction a significant obstacle. By keeping a bag of cat litter in your vehicle, you give your tires a fighting chance in slippery conditions. If you drive a 4WD vehicle, make sure you keep enough cat litter for all four tires.
Like an air compressor, it's good to keep jumper cables in your vehicle all year long. In winter, though, it's especially important. Cold weather can wreak havoc on your battery, much more so than warmer summer weather. If your battery has gotten weaker over time, all it takes is one good cold snap to expose just how bad your battery's condition can be. Having jumper cables and some help from another person can be just what you need to get to the shop and purchase a new battery.
A Small Shovel
In many winter emergency situations, removing compacted snow from around your vehicle is all you really need to do to get back on the road. Trying to dig it out with your hands is a miserable (and potentially dangerous) ordeal. Many military surplus stores care small and/or fold-able shovels that fit neatly in your trunk. A shovel, paired with some cat litter, can make quick work out of what could otherwise be a very frustrating situation.
First Aid Kit
In emergency situations, there is always risk for injury. Having a basic first aid kit can help address minor injuries until professional help arrives. Further, if you or your family take specific medication, it is not a bad idea to keep some of that in there, too. It can sometimes be hours until help arrives, and having basic medical supplies on hand can go a long way towards keeping a bad situation from turning into a desperate situation.
Hat and Gloves
In winter, it is likely that you are already traveling with a hat and gloves, but that isn't always the case. As mentioned at the top of this article, being able to keep warm is critical in winter weather emergencies. Keeping a spare hat and gloves in your winter weather emergency kit is a very simple and effective way to stay warm until help arrives.
Have we mentioned that staying warm is key? Good. For that reason, keeping a blanket in your vehicle can be crucial in the thick of winter. A good option would be an old quilt that you have lying around. They tend to be thin and dense, so they take up less room in your vehicle, but can still provide adequate warmth.
In winter, snow removal crews are out there doing their best to keep surfaces free from snow and ice, so you can travel safely. Still, Old Man Winter is a fickle character. For that reason, it's always best to keep a winter car survival kit in your vehicle to help ensure a certain level of preparedness for winter roadside emergencies.
Finally, if you are looking for commercial snow removal services, we'd sure appreciate it if you would give E.P.M. LawnScape and Supply an opportunity. Simply contact us online or call us at (517) 990-0110 today!
Lawn Mower Maintenance Tips
When the mercury starts to drop, the leaves start to fall, and sweatshirts come out, it means autumn is in the air. That also means, it's getting just about time to put the lawn mower in the shed or garage for the season. Before you do that, however, you should take some time to ensure it is in the best shape it can be for next year's mowing season. In this post, we are going to take a look at some fall and winter lawn mower maintenance tips to keep your mower in tip-top shape.
Fall Lawn Mower Maintenance Tips
Sometime around Halloween, mowing season usually comes to close. After that last mowing, you should drain any remaining gas from your tank. The easiest way to do this is to just let the mower run until it stops. In preparation for that, watch how much gas you are putting in the mower in the final weeks of the season. Try to get an idea of just how much gas is necessary for a full mow. You don't want to just let the mower run for an hour if you don't have to. If you would rather not have an empty tank during the off season, then be sure to add a gas stabilizer to the remaining gas. This will give you the best shot at clean starts in the spring when it's time to get back out there.
After the final mow, you should also clear out all of the matted grass and other clippings from under the deck. Grass can hold more moisture in fall and that makes it easier for seemingly-dry grass to cake up and stick to the blades and underside of the deck. You can use a putty knife to get the stubborn grass.
Pro Tip: If you get in the habit of clearing grass out from the deck and blades after every mow, there will be much less accumulation to deal with at the end of the season.
Winter Lawn Mower Maintenance Tips
When the snow is covering the ground in a beautiful white blanket, it's the perfect time to get your mower into the shop for a full check up by a professional. If you set up an appointment for January or February, odds are that the calendar at the shop will be wide open.
This is also a good time to change the oil, which should be done annually. Late winter / early spring are ideal times to do this. When the grass starts to grow, you don't want to be out there changing your oil before you can mow it.
Some other regular off-season lawn mower maintenance checks include:
Examine the air filter - If it is starting to get gunked up, it's time to get a new one in there.
Replace the spark plug - You should really do this every year. Decline in spark plug performance can be difficult to notice because it happens over time. Replacing it annually helps to ensure that it, and the rest of your engine, can stay working at peak performance.
Examine your mower blades - A general rule of thumb is to replace them or sharpen them every 2-3 seasons. Still, you will want to check them every season. Some seasons will see a lot of rain and warm weather, which leads to more frequent mowing and thicker grass. Some seasons will be the complete opposite. When you keep tabs on your blades and ensure they are sharp, you'll know you are getting a clean cut with each mowing.
While your lawn mower may not be as big as an investment as your house our your vehicle, it's still an investment. Taking proper care of it, particularly in the off season when you have the time, is the best way to keep it working like new for many years to come. And when your mower is running well, your lawn (another investment of time and money) will also look good year after year.
Of course, if you would rather leave the lawn maintenance to professionals, we'd sure appreciate it if you reach out to E.P.M. LawnScape and Supply. We have a full range of commercial grounds maintenance and residential lawn care service available. You can contact us online or call us at (517) 990-0110 today!