How to make a winter car emergency kit

winter road

Winter weather can change travel plans quickly. It’s best to be prepared before heading out during the winter months so that if you do run into problems and are stranded, you won’t be completely down on your luck.

Having a cell phone is one key item for a winter car emergency so that you can call for help, but if you don’t have reception or if your phone’s battery dies, you’ll want to be prepared and as comfortable as possible while you wait for help to arrive.

Winter car emergency kit: What you’ll need

Related: The best methods for defogging, defrosting and removing ice from your car’s windshield

Be prepared for winter driving by putting together a winter car emergency kit. This supply list is adapted from University of Illinois Extension:

  • Windshield scraper and brush
  • Shovel
  • Jumper cables
  • Tow rope
  • Basic car tool kit (with screwdrivers, wrenches, sockets, vice grips, pliers, tire pressure gauge)
  • Compass
  • Road mapwindshield scraper and windshield wiper fluid
  • Blankets and/or sleeping bags
  • Extra clothes, including socks, gloves, a scarf and face mask
  • Non-perishable, high-calorie food like energy bars, granola bars, dried fruit or MREs
  • Bottled water
  • Flashlight
  • Extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Knife
  • Phone charger
  • Bag of sand or container of cat litter
  • Road flares
  • Duct tapefirst aid supplies
  • Large empty can with plastic lid (for sanitary purposes)
  • Tissues
  • Paper towels

You may also want to include:

  • Waterproof matches (to melt snow for drinking water)
  • Small can (to hold melted snow)
  • Notebook and pen

Your car likely came with a car jack and jack stands, but if it didn’t, make sure you have them in case you need to change a flat tire. Likewise, you’ll need a tire iron to change a flat.

A tire sealant like Fix-a-Flat can help in a pinch to get you home or to a location nearby.

You may want to keep an empty gas can in your vehicle in case you run out of gas and can get to a gas station and back to your vehicle safely.

Other tipstow truck

You never know when or where you may get stuck in a snowstorm or when your car may break down in inclement weather. Take these tips into consideration this winter:

Winterize your car

Take precautions and make sure your car is in its best working condition by winterizing your car. There are also steps you can take to avoid a dead car battery during cold weather.

Drive safety

Icy, slushy or snow-covered roads can be hazardous to drivers. Keep these tips in mind when you’re driving during winter weather. You may also want to download the free Winter Survival Kit, an app for iPhone and Android that stores emergency contact numbers, finds your location keeps you safe from carbon monoxide poisoning. It was developed by North Dakota State University Extension Service and Myriad Devices.

Do you keep anything else in your car in case of a winter emergency? Tell us in the comments below.


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Katie Woods grew up in Columbiana, Ohio. Katie likes reading, writing, enjoying the outdoors and DIY projects.



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