Once the snow and ice start to form in the winter, it’s easy to forget how such a pretty scene can be deadly. Everyone traveling in snowy states should be prepared in case they break down, become stuck, or any other reason they might be stranded on the road. Here are 11 items you must have in your winter emergency car kit.
11 Items You Must Have
In Your Winter Emergency Car Kit
Anyone driving in areas where snow is common should carry a Winter Emergency Car Kit. In the case of an accident or being stranded for any other reason, it could save both you and your passengers.
The following list is in addition to the more common items carried on the road in the winter:
- Extra dry clothing
- bottled water and dry foods
- booster cables
Kit and Roadside Emergency Tips
- Store your emergency items in the back seat or other area you can access from inside the passenger areas of the car. Severe cold or snow coverage can often make opening your truck difficult if not impossible.
- Make sure your kit includes everything you may need (and in sufficient quantity to last overnight or longer) so that you can stay with your vehicle. Leaving the scene and attempting to walk in bad winter weather is more dangerous than waiting until morning.
- When selecting items for your kit: choose function over comfort. You may have a blanket that is soft, but it won’t block out cold as well as a thermal sheet. You may not like the taste of protein bars, but they’ll provide more energy than something like chips or candy.
- If you have something brightly colored, try to tie to it your antenna so that it can be seen over snow piles and alert anyone passing by.
The following are items that should be in every snowy climate emergency car kit.
1. Compact Snow Shovel
Often you can avoid being stranded simply by having a shovel to dig out a tire stuck in the snow. It can also come in handy to lend assistance to others you find in need of help.
2. Windshield Scraper
If you live in the North or Midwest, you should already have one of these….or three. It’s best to get a model that offers both a scraper and a brush. Some are attached to a mitt so your hand stays warm and dry.
3. Weatherproof Flashlight or Lantern
The only thing worse than being stranded on the side of the road in winter – is being stranded in the dark. Make sure your light sources have fresh batteries and always carry extra. Avoid rechargeable or solar lights unless they have a battery backup.
4. Crank Powered Emergency Radio
With emergency radios you can avoid batteries completely. Some may also offer solar power, but crank power will be the most reliable for roadside strandings.
5. First Aid Kit with Utility Knife
Everyone knows how valuable a first aid kit is and most of us have one at home. But, not everyone remembers to put one in their car. Look for a kit that offers tools for more serious injury (sprains, open wounds) and also includes a utility knife.
6. Emergency Blankets and/or Sleeping Bags
Whether you’re just waiting 2 hours for a tow or you’re forced to stay in your vehicle overnight – these thermal blankets will help keep you warm and your body temperature at a safe level.
7. Ice Melt
A good compliment to the snow shovel, ice melt can help you get up inclines that may otherwise have you stranded. It can also serve to enhance the shoveling of snow when you’re stuck.
8. Emergency Flares
Luckily, flares are no longer only fire and sparks. Now you can easily find electronic lights that flash to attract anyone nearby, signal rescue workers, and also warn oncoming traffic of your location.
9. USB Car Charger
Along with your regular adapter, consider also storing a car phone charger in your Winter Emergency Car Kit that comes with a cord attached just in case you left yours at home. A USB charger is no good if you can’t connect it to your phone.
10. Emergency Food & Water For Pets
Don’t forget your furry passengers. Cats are more versatile with food so having an extra bag of dry kibble should suffice. For our puppy pals (especially the larger breeds) there are dog meal bars that are perfect for emergency situations. Place a few in your glove compartment along with a water bottle that serves as a drinking bowl.
11. Hand Warmers
Still a favorite in all cold climates and great for a Winter Emergency Car Kit, hand warmers can be invaluable when stuck in the cold. Use them for your hands and feet as needed by simply shaking them to activate the heat for several hours.
More Tips for Winter Roadside Emergencies
- Be prepared: Make sure you keep your gas tank at least half full during cold months.
- During harsh weather or when a storm is expected, stay home if possible. But if you must go out…
- …be easy to find. Tell someone where you are going and the route you will take.
- Check in with a friend or family member when you are leaving one location, heading somewhere new.
- Call 911 as soon as you believe you are unable to continue to your home or other safe destination.
- Don’t try to walk and stay to the side of the road with your vehicle. Do not try to signal traffic while standing in the road.
- Don’t run your vehicle unless you’ve checked your exhaust pipe. Snow and ice can clog the exhaust and create dangerous fumes inside the car or truck.
- If you do run the engine for warmth, make sure to crack at least one window. This provides safe ventilation and also allows you to hear if rescue vehicles, plows, etc are in the area.
Planning a winter road trip? Check out 10 Family Friendly Podcasts for Your Next Roadtrip and 52 Family Road Trip Resources