17 items you should keep in your vehicle this winter

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Downtown Chicago on Friday was beginning to look more like late December than Nov. 10. | Rich Hein / Sun-Times

Officials with the Cook County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management have released a list of 17 items every driver should keep in their vehicle this winter.

The items could save your life if a storm strikes, or your vehicle leaves you stranded, department officials said.

“Even a short drive can turn into a dangerous one, especially during severe weather,” according to a statement released Friday by the department.

A basic safety kit should include the following items:

• a shovel

• windshield scrapper and small broom

• flashlight with extra batteries

• battery powered radio

• water

• snack food, including energy bars

• matches and small candles

• extra hats, socks and gloves

• a first aid kid with a pocket knife

• extra medication

• blankets or a sleeping bag

• tow chain or rope

• road salt, sand or cat litter for traction

• jumper cables

• emergency flares and reflectors

• a fluorescent distress flag and whistle

• cellphone charging adaptor to plug into lighter.

The department also recommends keeping your gas tank at least half full, telling someone where you’re going before leaving on your trip and staying inside your vehicle during a storm.

If you’re in your vehicle for a long period of time, only run the engine for 10 minutes every hour to save gas, and keep a window cracked to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.


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