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What to leave and what NOT to leave in your car in cold weather

DATE | 02/20/20
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It's not quite spring yet!

Cold weather is always a good reminder to make sure you have needed emergency items in your car and that your spare tire is in good condition. Ready.gov recommends you keep the following in your vehicle:

  • Shovel, scraper, and small broom.
  • Flashlight and matches.
  • Battery powered radio and extra batteries.
  • Water and snack food.
  • First aid kit with pocket knife.
  • Extra hats, socks, mittens, boots, and blankets.
  • Tow chain, rope, and booster cables.
  • Road salt and sand.
  • Emergency flares and fluorescent distress flag.

But when the temperatures plunge, have you ever thought about what NOT to have in your car? Certain items can break, explode, or otherwise suffer negative effects. Consider excluding these items from your car during chilly temperatures:

Medication: Some medications can lose their effectiveness if they freeze. Liquid medications, like insulin, can separate when they thaw, leading to incorrect or ineffective dosages.

Mobile phones/tablets: These items are susceptible to shutting down in cold weather, preventing the lithium-ion batteries from discharging electricity. They may work again when thawed, or there may be condensation inside the unit that short-circuits the battery. Apple and Samsung both recommend operating devices between about 32 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

Drinks/food: Soda, beer, and wine will all expand when they freeze, risking an explosion and a sticky mess—or worse, an unwelcome distraction as you’re driving. Food in cans or glass jars react in a similar manner when left in a freezing car.

Musical instruments: Guitars and other wood instruments can suffer serious damage, which may be difficult or impossible to repair. Warm up instruments gradually if you forget them in a cold car.