How to Prepare A Winter Emergency Kit for Your Car

With these frigid cold temperatures, freezing rain and snow storms, it is important to be prepared for the worst. Whether you are a local driver or long distance commuter, always be prepared.

A roadside emergency can happen at any time, whether your car is new or old. A range of problems can cause it, from a tire failure or mechanical breakdown to running out of fuel. At best, it’s an annoyance; at worst, it can compromise your safety. Being prepared with a basic emergency kit can increase your safety, reduce stress, and help you get back on the road faster.

Even if you have roadside-assistance coverage or an automobile-club membership with roadside assistance, you usually need access to a phone in order to contact them and you may have to wait on the side of the road for an hour or more before help arrives.

Prepare an emergency car kit

A basic car kit should contain the following:

  • Food that won’t spoil, such as energy bars
  • Water–plastic bottles (replace them every six months)
  • Blanket
  • Extra clothing and shoes or boots
  • First aid kit with seatbelt cutter
  • Small shovel, scraper and snowbrush
  • Candle in a deep can and matches
  • Wind‑up flashlight
  • Whistle–in case you need to attract attention
  • Roadmaps

Items to keep in your trunk:

  • Sand, salt
  • Antifreeze and windshield washer fluid
  • Tow rope
  • Jumper cables
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Warning light or road flares

Survival tips:

  • Prepare your vehicle: Make sure you keep your gas tank at least half full.
  • Be easy to find: Tell someone where you are going and the route you will take.
  • If stuck: Tie a fluorescent flag (from your kit) on your antenna or hang it out the window.
  • At night, keep your dome light on. Rescue crews can see a small glow at a distance.
  • To reduce battery drain, use emergency flashers only if you hear approachingvehicles. If you’re with someone else, make sure at least one person is awake and keeping watch for help at all times.
  • Stay in your vehicle: Walking in a storm can be very dangerous. You might become lost or exhausted. Your vehicle is a good shelter.
  • Avoid Overexertion: Shoveling snow or pushing your car takes a lot of effort in storm conditions. Don’t risk a heart attack or injury. That work can also make you hot and sweaty. Wet clothing loses insulation value, making you susceptible to hypothermia.
  • Fresh Air: It’s better to be cold and awake than comfortably warm and sleepy. Snow can plug your vehicle’s exhaust system and cause deadly carbon monoxide gas to enter your car. Only run the engine for 10 minutes an hour and make sure the exhaust pipe is free of snow. Keeping a window open a crack while running the engine is also a good idea.
  • Don’t expect to be comfortable: You want to survive until you’re found. Follow all of these tips and remember to be safe and cautious during the winter season.