13 Essentials for Your Winter Emergency Car Kit (+Checklist)
Colder temperatures likely mean snowfall is expected. Children get excited for snow days and playing outside, but this change in weather does not make for fun driving conditions. We care about your safety and want you to be prepared in the event you end up stuck in the snow.
Your winter emergency kit should include basic survival supplies, safety items, car maintenance tools, and winter clothing. Before venturing out into the cold weather, pack up a roadside emergency kit with these recommendations.
Nighttime or near-blizzard conditions can decrease visibility to near-zero. A bright flashlight can provide much-needed light to either work on getting back on the road or signal to others for help. It’s smart to keep extra batteries in your emergency survival kit.
2. Bag of cat litter
For those new to winter weather, icy conditions greatly reduce your tire traction. To get your car unstuck, pour non-clumping kitty litter in the path of your tires. Other alternatives include sand or road salt.
3. Snow shovel
If snow starts piling up around your car on the side of the road, you’ll need a shovel to help you clear a path or uncover your car. Keep your car visible to rescue teams by limiting the amount of snow surrounding it or covering your taillights.
4. First aid kit
A basic first aid kit can come in handy in the event of minor scrapes or pains, but even more so if you’re stranded. If you take daily medications, you should also pack extras away in your kit.
5. Ice scraper
People familiar with winter weather know how vital a windshield scraper is for getting ice and snow off of a windshield. During a deep freeze or emergency situation, you don’t want to waste time — or your car’s battery — waiting to defrost a thick sheet of ice on your windshield.
6. Jumper cables
Speaking of batteries, you’ll need to be able to jumpstart your car if the battery goes dead. While jumping a car is common, it can be dangerous if you don’t do it correctly. Most importantly, reduce the risk of sparking by never touching the clamps end to end and avoid any moisture near the cables.
Dehydration is a serious threat when you’re stranded. Keep a large jug of water—preferably glass—in your car for emergencies. Replace the water every few months since it may go through extreme temperature changes inside your car.
Pack a large, thick blanket away in your car to keep you warm in winter weather or to use as padding in case you need to work on your car. Consider adding a reflective emergency blanket or sleeping bag to your kit too.
9. Cell phone charger
This is essential for most drivers already but it won’t hurt to add an extra charger with a lighter adapter to your kit. Of course, this assumes you have enough gas and battery to keep your car running to get a charge so consider packing a portable phone charger too.
10. Reflective triangles
Breaking down on the side of the road can put you at risk for passing drivers, especially in low visibility conditions. Put out reflective triangles to make your car more visible and protect from any hazards.
11. Non-perishable snacks
Granola bars, nuts, crackers, dried fruit, and jerky are a few examples of snacks you can keep on hand in case you get stranded. Like the water, you should replace these every few months or sooner so they don’t expire.
Waterproof matches or a lighter can provide some light and warmth in case of emergency. These small items hardly take up any space in your kit too.
Similar to the first aid kit, a basic toolkit can be useful year-round in your car. From small repairs to changing a tire, keep these on hand in case you need them.
Other recommended items
For those who like to always be prepared, consider adding a few more items to your winter car emergency kit. Stock up with plenty of winter clothing like a hat, large coat, socks, and gloves to stay warm and dry.
Pack these additional supplies if you have space in your car:
- Extra winter clothes
- Snow boots
- Tire chains
- Duct tape
- Empty gas can
- Tow strap
- Fire extinguisher
- Road flare
- Snow brush
- Traction mats