Guide to Creating Your Winter Car Emergency Kit

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winter highway

The thing about the changing seasons is that they tend to sneak up on you. It may be a balmy 80 degrees out one moment, but then you blink, and suddenly it’s scarves and hot cocoa. Because the change in seasons can be so unpredictable, it’s of the utmost importance to be prepared well ahead of time. You’ll be glad you did in the event something bad happens and you’re not stuck on the side of the road in the snow.

Speaking of being stuck in the snow, winter is probably the most preparation-worthy of the seasons, bringing with it both bitter cold and obstructing snow. No matter how road and weather-ready your car may be, all it takes is a single flat tire to strand you on the highway in a blizzard, where conditions can swiftly become dangerous. Before that happens, you’d better get your emergency winter car kit in order, filling it with vital tools and resources.

Tools and utilities

flat tire winter

As far as wintertime car tools go, you’ve probably already got an ice scraper and a tire replacement kit (iron, jack, etc.) in your car somewhere. That’s a good start, but you’re going to want a lot more than that to handle the worst possible situation. For instance, if you’re dealing with a flat tire, you’re going to need portable tools to fix the flat in case you can’t get to your spare. This means a tire inflator that you can hook up to your car’s cigarette lighter, as well as a can of sprayable flat patcher.

In addition to the tire repair tools, you’ll also want a sturdy, foldable shovel for digging up snow. Whether it’s just your tires or the whole front hood, you need a way to remove that snow that doesn’t involve swatting it away with your bare hands. Depending on where you live and the typical road conditions, as well as how much room you have for emergency storage in your car, you might also want to invest in some good winter tire chains and a bag of sand for traction.

Clothes and warmth

man in winter clothes

If you’re out driving in the winter, you’re probably already dressed fairly warmly, but the warmth of the cabin won’t do much if you need to leave it to fix or dig out the car. This is why your emergency kit should have measures to help protect you against the bitter cold. You don’t know how long you’re going to be stranded after all, so you need to stay warm.

For work purposes, you want a good winter hat with flaps to cover up your ears. You lose a lot of your body heat from your head, so a full, thick covering is a must. Besides that, you want a pair of sturdy, padded work gloves, thick enough to protect your hands from the cold, but not so thick that you can’t perform precision work. If you’ve got the room for it, you might also want to pack some chemical warmer pads, as well as a thick, insulated blanket.

Electricity and electronics

car USB charger

We don’t get to decide what time of day we get stuck in the snow on the highway. If you’re lucky (relatively speaking), you’ll get stuck during the day, but if you get stuck at night, you’ll be stranded in pitch darkness. This is why sources of light are a must-have for your emergency kit. You’re going to want an LED flashlight or headlamp, preferably one that can take lithium batteries. Alkaline batteries aren’t a good idea, as they can freeze at low temperatures and become useless. You’ll also want a car-compatible charger for your phone so you can call for help, as well as a spare charger in case your usual one doesn’t work.

While we’re on the subject of electricity, make sure you’ve got a pair of jumper cables in your trunk, and you know how to use them. If your car’s battery gets cooked, you won’t be able to heat the cabin. With any luck, either rescue personnel or a friendly motorist will be able to give you a boost, but you’ll need jumper cables handy in case they don’t have their own.

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