These are the most important items to keep in a winter car survival kit.
With cold weather comes additional winter driving challenges. Especially if you live in a remote area where road conditions are rough due to a lack of plowing. In some parts of the country, the roads do not get plowed at all, which can lead to dangerous road conditions in the winter season.
Every year, motorists get into trouble because they do not have a proper winter survival kit in their vehicle for emergency situations. Putting together a proper kit of winter emergency supplies for your vehicle is not hard. We are talking about items beyond the usual jumper cables, tire chains, tow straps, snow brush, and ice scraper.
Today we will go over the key items you need to include in your winter car emergency kit this year. It's good to take stock of what's in your vehicle now before road conditions worsen. Because winter weather can be incredibly unpredictable, and a little preparedness now will help avoid regret later.
Quality First Aid Kit
A first aid kit is a great idea for a vehicle regardless of the season. Especially if you spend a lot of time driving in remote areas that receive little traffic. Nothing is worse than sustaining a bad injury and having nothing to treat it with. Most ready-made first aid kits are good, but I usually like to supplement mine with extra items. Because it's better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. For instance, I like adding Asprin or other painkillers to my kits for those unexpected headaches or aches and pains that come up when you're far from home.
Most kits have room for an emergency rain poncho, or an folding emergency sleeping bag. It's not a bad idea to include some hand warmers too for in case you get stuck and need to wait for assistance. Many kits also have room for things like a small multitool, some light sticks for extra visibility in a winter storm, or even an extra cell phone charger. Some kits also allow you to combine two items into one to save space. For instance, I like the VSSL First Aid Kits because they include a powerful LED flashlight into the body. The other end has an oil-filled compass that can help you find your way if lost in a storm.
A stocked tool kit.
One never knows when they are going to have to change a flat tire or do other minor repairs on the side of the road. Doing it during a blizzard can be a nightmare, especially if you do not have the proper tools on hand. I personally keep a variety of tools in my vehicle all-year for just this purpose. I once had a windshield wiper break on a frosty winter morning and had to break out my tool kit to get the broken wiper blade off because it was flopping all over the place.
You do not need to eat up a ton of space either. Some basic wrenches and ratchets, along with a multi-bit screwdriver kit will help cover most minor repairs. Think beyond just putting on a spare tire too. A good roll of duct tape like the T-Rex tape above does not take up a ton of space, but can come in extremely handy in a pinch.
Spare warm clothing.
It never hurts to add some warm clothing to your winter safety kit. Especially if you are planning a road trip in the winter months. Because it you get stalled or stranded on a remote highway somewhere, staying warm is extremely important. Because frostbite or hypothermia can set in quickly. If you have an old bag laying around, pack it with extra sweaters, winter hats, mittens, and other warm gear. It doesn't have to be new clothing, just warm for when you need it. Stash it in the trunk or under a seat for emergencies. You might also consider storing an old blanket in there too. Many of the most harrowing stories we've heard of people surviving being stranded in a storm somewhere have had people who would have been better off if they had extra clothes stashed away.
Road flares and reflectors.
In a blizzard or whiteout conditions, visibility becomes a huge factor if you get stranded or need to stop to change a tire. If other vehicles cannot see you, it can become a recipe for disaster. Fortunately, a good set of road flares or reflectors take up little space and are usually cheap. Remember there's less daylight in the winter months. If you are forced to leave a vehicle behind until conditions improve, you want to make sure it's visible to prevent accidents with other vehicles who happen to be passing later. A good set of reflective triangles can help significantly in this regard.
Cat litter or traction mats.
It may seem weird to keep kitty litter in your vehicle in the winter, but it can really help you out of a jam in case you do happen to get stuck. Just make sure it's of a non-clumping variety. You want something that you can put under the tires to help provide traction for your tires. Using kitty litter is the easy budget way to prep for getting stuck, but you can also buy commercial traction mats that store easily yet are ready for getting vehicles that are only slightly stuck to be un-stuck again.
This one is not really an option for everyone. However, if you own a larger vehicle with lots of storage space, keeping a snow shovel in your vehicle when the weather starts to get nasty is a great idea. Because if you get stuck, you can go ahead and dig yourself out instead of waiting for help to arrive. Another option is to get a telescoping or folding shovel like the DMOS Stealth Shovel, which allows you to carry a full-length tool, yet store it easily in a storage area or stash it behind a seat until you need it.
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For more outdoor content from Travis Smola, be sure to follow him on Twitter and check out his Geocaching and Outdoors with Travis YouTube channels.
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