Whether you live in or travel to a climate where winter means unpredictably cold weather means having your car stocked up for wintertime emergencies is a must. It doesn’t take much preparation to assure that you can focus on getting to your winter destinations safe and sound. But in the event of an emergency there are items you should have available during any trip in the cold.
There’s no need to let the assembly of these items overwhelm you. Create a list and prioritize which items you’ll need first, and add a few to your shopping list each time you head to the store. Soon enough, your car will be prepped and ready to take winter adventures by storm.
Car Emergency Kit
- Make sure your spare tire is inflated and in serviceable condition.
- Jumper cables—this is a must as cold saps a car battery’s power very quickly.
- A small tool kit—make sure you have everything you need to change a tire and loosen or tighten some bolts.
- Tire inflator and sealer—this will plug a leak just long and well enough to get you to a tire shop.
- Tire pressure gauge—checking tire pressure on a regular basis can improve the handling, increase your car’s fuel economy, promote tire longevity, and even save lives.
- Duct tape and WD-40—both are exceptionally versatile items that can loosen or hold things together long enough for you to reach an auto repair shop.
- A small shovel—like a collapsible camping shovel. A shovel will help you to dig out in a pinch. If you get stuck and want to keep the car running, you can use it to keep the exhaust pipe cleared.
- Flares or reflective triangles—so you can station them around your vehicle if you’re stranded.
- An ice scraper—preferably one with a brush to also remove snow. Without it, it will be very difficult to keep your windows cleared.
- Your car’s manual—this way, you can get a general idea of what’s wrong with your vehicle in the event of an emergency and whether or not it’s something you can handle on your own.
Safety and Survival
- First aid kit—fortunately many stores and websites offer preorganized ones so it’s easy to purchase and store.
- Flashlight—make sure you check the batteries often and replace them before a long car trip.
- A wind-up radio—this allows you to know what the weather is regardless of whether or not you have electricity in your car. A few cranks to charge it, and you’ll know when conditions have improved and what the state of roads are.
- Energy bars, jerky, or other non-perishable easily stored food.
- Water bottles—but be careful as they can freeze and possibly rupture.
- Multipurpose utility tool—such as a Swiss Army Knife or Leatherman.
- High-visibility jacket—this won’t necessarily keep you warm, but if you need to leave the vehicle in the dark, you’ll want to be easily seen by other motorists.
- Change of clothes—if you get drenched in rain or snow, sitting in wet cold clothing can bring frostbite. Changing clothes may be uncomfortable or difficult in the car, but potentially life-saving.
- Warm clothes, extra gloves, and blankets—you may feel more comfortable driving without a heavy jacket, but you should still travel with one in the car. A breakdown could mean a long wait with no heat, so having multiple layers to keep warm until assistance arrives is crucial.
- Phone chargers—keep a battery-powered phone charger (with fresh batteries!) stashed in your car in case your vehicle loses power. You can have it ready to go for when your phone needs a quick boost of power in case of an emergency, even if your car has also died. Stash an extra car charger for your phone somewhere handy to use if your car still has power.
Whether you’re staying close to home this winter or traveling across the country, having these things on hand will give you peace of mind for your journey. These items will help you survive almost any winter weather accident, no matter how bad the storm. By keeping warm and safe and assuring you can signal to help, you’re doing everything you can to ensure your future. Be prepared, be properly equipped, drive responsibly—and stay safe on the roads in winter.