Afraid you’ll get stuck? What to keep in your car

As dawn breaks early Wednesday morning January 29, 2014 South of Downtown Atlanta, the Connector Southbound is clogged with traffic as the Connector Northbound is an empty sheet of ice.

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As dawn breaks early Wednesday morning January 29, 2014 South of Downtown Atlanta, the Connector Southbound is clogged with traffic as the Connector Northbound is an empty sheet of ice.

When Marc Solomon jumped in the car to drive through Tuesday’s snowflakes to pick up his daughter at North Springs High School, he didn’t think he’d be gone that long. He didn’t bring a coat.

Big mistake.

After 12 hours in gridlock, Solomon and his wife and daughter finally abandoned the vehicle and walked the last mile and a half to their Johns Creek home at midnight. Dad was wearing just a thin sweatshirt against the below-freezing temperatures.

“If you walk fast enough, you don’t get quite as cold,” he said later, adopting a cheery tone.

As their cellphones ran out of power and their tanks ran out of gas, those stuck in Snowpocalypse 2014 learned an important lesson, summed up by the old Boy Scout maxim: Be prepared.

To be ready for future snowstorms, traffic nightmares and other emergencies, there are some useful items to keep in your car, according to the American Automobile Association and other sources.

They include:

  • A coat, a hat and gloves.
  • Sneakers, boots or other alternative footwear. (No one wants to walk through snow in high heels or loafers. Other emergencies also might require taking a hike, and even in fair weather, formal shoes are a drag.)
  • A cellphone charger that plugs into the cigarette lighter.
  • Maps: the paper kind. GPS devices fail; a laminated map endures.
  • A hand-cranked flashlight.
  • A gallon jug of water.
  • Jumper cables.
  • First-aid kit.
  • Extra fuses.

Those should get you through most short-term problems. If the weather is dicey, and it looks like you could be stranded, a few other items will make life more bearable:

  • Your prescription drugs.
  • A blanket and a pillow.
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste.
  • Flares or reflective triangles.
  • Nonperishable snacks.

Metro Atlantans can’t expect enough heavy snow to warrant chains, but these snow preparations are within reason:

  • A bag of sand.
  • A windshield scraper and a small broom to sweep off snow.
  • A folding shovel.

A porta-potty would probably be an impractical addition to the trunk clutter, but would have been exceedingly popular among Tuesday’s motorists who were prevented from attending nature’s call.