10 Things to Keep in Your Car for Winter Driving

Winter is officially upon us and while many of us were prepared for these snow squalls and the first snow; some of us weren’t (I am some of us). I haven’t put my winter tires on yet, I keep forgetting to put my snow brush in the car and I need to remember to put a blanket and some mitts in the car. If you’re like me and are prepping your car for the next heavy snowfall, consider adding these items to your vehicle this winter.

Young woman cleaning the snow off her car with a snow brush.

 

  1. Ice Scraper and Snow Brush: This is probably the most important thing on this list and I implore you to pick one up at your local hardware store!! And no, your forearm will not do the trick… This is important because snow and ice on your car can and will obstruct your view or it could fly off and hit another vehicle.
  2. Small Shovel: Keep a small shovel in the trunk of your car, it will come in handy if your car gets stuck in the snow or if you need to clear a path in the snow.
  3. Mitts and Winter Clothing: Listen, I hate wearing mitts as much as the next person, but when it comes time to actually brushing the snow off of your car: they are a game changer – wipe your car off in comfort, wear winter gloves. Also, pack an extra jacket and some warm clothes in your car in case you’re stuck in the cold after an accident or your car fails to start.
  4.  Blanket: Do you have any extra blankets laying around your house? Put one in your car. If you get stranded or are in an accident, it’ll get cold fast. You can’t always rely on your car’s heater, so keep warm with a blanket.
  5. Extra windshield washer fluid: Once the winter hits, it is important to make sure your windshield washer fluid has antifreeze components to prevent freezing. You will also need to use more wiper fluid to help clear your windshield in the winter.
  6. Flashlight: It gets dark early in the winter. If you experience car trouble at night you can use the flashlight to find out what’s wrong and it helps to make you more visible to others on the road.
  7. Cell phone charger: Try to keep your phone charged before hitting the road, but always keep a cell phone charger in your car as well. You will need your phone to call for assistance if you are stuck or involved in a car crash.
  8. Water and non-perishable snacks: If you get stranded, you may have to wait a while for assistance, which can often be delayed by poor road conditions. Storing water and snacks in your car will come can come in handy during situations like this.
  9.  Sunglasses. Snow blindness is very real and it occurs when the sun’s reflection on the snow creates a nasty glare that can temporarily disorient you. Wearing sunglasses while driving can reduce the glare.
  10. First aid kit. A first aid kit is essential year-round, but it is one of the most important things to keep in your car during winter because emergency vehicle response time may be slow if it’s snowing.

These are just some of the essentials that you should keep in your car during the winter, but before you even hit the road, make sure you have: gas, good wiper blades and a decent set of winter or all season tires. Stay safe out there this Winter!

Tips for Wood Stove Safety

Picture this, it’s the first snow of the season and you’re curled up beside a crackling fire on a cold night. There is nothing better than the warm comfort of a wood stove on a chilly night, but with that comfort comes a great deal of risk. If you have a wood or pellet stove in your home, you should consider some of the tips below to keep your family warm and safe all winter long. 

Fireplace, wood stove, safety
 

 

Wood stove safety tips

Keep these tips in mind for safe and efficient wood stove use:

  1. Keep it clean. The buildup of soot can significantly reduce the heat transfer efficiency of your wood stove. To get the most out of your wood stove you, clean out the inside of it with a wire brush once a month.
  2. Use seasoned wood. Freshly chopped wood is too wet to burn in your wood stove this causes extra smoke and a buildup of creosote in your chimney (which can start a chimney fire). “Seasoned wood” is wood that has been cut, split, and left to dry for over 6 months — and this is what you should burn in your wood stove.

 

Pellet stove safety tips

These tips will help keep you safe and your stove running efficiently all winter.

  1. Clean it often. Pellet stoves need to be cleaned more often than wood stoves — usually once a week during heating season  They also need to be cleaned by a professional at least once a year.
  2. Follow the rules. With a pellet stove it is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for operation, cleaning, and maintenance. Only use the type of pellets that are recommended for your specific model of stove.
  3. Charge your batteries. If the power goes out while your pellet stove is running, the fan system could stop working and cause smoke to pour into your house. Be sure you have a working battery backup system to keep the fans running long enough to finish burning the pellets in the chamber so you can safely turn your heater off and prevent smoke damage.

 

How does installing a wood stove or pellet stove affect your home insurance?

Cuddling up beside your wood or pellet stove might keep you cozy, but these are also two of the riskiest heating systems to have in your home. We’re not saying to throw out a perfectly good stove, but if you are having second thoughts and are looking to instal a new heating system. be sure to contact your local insurance broke to help you make an informed choice so that there aren’t any surprises down the road.

Whether you plan to stick with what you have or you’re looking for an alternative heating system to reduce your energy consumption and lower your heating bills, there are several safe and efficient systems on the market. Some options include heat pumps, solar systems, geothermal systems, and more. Be sure to reach out to your licensed insurance broker to learn about your options and how they might affect your insurance.