We never want to think about it, but roadside emergencies happen to all of us. And since it’s always better to be prepared, consider building or purchasing a roadside emergency kit (if you don’t have one already) to have on-hand when a problem arises.
These kits are suitable for any time of year. Winter, however, is particularly taxing on cars and their passengers. Therefore, you should consider supplementing your roadside kit in the winter with some cold-weather tools and supplies to keep you safe and secure.
Year-Round Roadside Kit Essentials
There are a handful of items you should always keep on-hand for driving emergencies, regardless of the season. These include:
- First aid kit with extra medication.
- Jumper cables or jump pack.
- Portable air compressor.
- Extra cell phone charger.
- Jack lug-wrench and a spare tire.
- Non-perishable food and water.
- Road flares or reflective triangles.
Winter Driving Kit Additions
Shovel / Long-Handled Snow Brush or Broom / Ice Scrapper
Digging your car out of the snow and clearing the powdery stuff off your vehicle are two of the most common labors that come with winter driving. You’ll need at least three tools in your winter driving emergency kit to effectively get the job done.
A shovel can keep clear a path around the car, as well as in front of and behind all four tires. Collapsible shovels are available for easy storage. A long-handled snow brush or broom should be used to remove snow from the vehicle itself. Finally, an ice scraper is the tool to clear your windshield and windows when the winter weather has frozen over.
Once you have the tools, learn the proper way to dig your car out from the snow.
Kitty Litter / Sand
If you’re stuck in a slippery patch of snow and ice, kitty litter and/or sand will be your best friend. These substances help improve traction, allowing your tires to grip the road and propel the vehicle forward.
Staying warm will be one of your main priorities – and obstacles – if you’re in a winter roadside emergency. A blanket can go a long way in this situation. Your best bet is to look for a camping-style blanket that can be packed up tightly to easily fit in your car.
You can’t drive your car if you can’t get inside. Your locks can easily freeze shut if any type of precipitation is followed by plunging temperatures. De-icers can help thaw the lock quickly and get you on your way in no time.
Wearing wet clothes in cold weather can cause hypothermia. For only a few dollars, a simple poncho can protect you and your clothes from the rain and snow. Plus, it can fold up inside a compact package to easily store in your winter driving kit.
Boots, Gloves, Hats
You may be best off keeping an entire extra set of warm clothes in your car. But if you have to narrow it down, make sure to have warm, dry sets of boots and gloves on hand, as well as a winter hat.
Your hands and feet are most likely to come in contact with the snow. Plus, extremities are often the first body parts to feel the effects of cold weather, so making sure these body parts are protected and well-insulated is vital. As for your head, heat escapes from every area of your body, so keeping your noggin uncovered is a mistake.
Hand and Feet Warmers
For an extra layer of protection, stock up on hand and feet warmers.
Extra Windshield Wiper and Fluid
Winter weather is particularly taxing on your vehicle. The onslaught of rain, snow, sleet and ice means your wipers will be working overtime. But this weather can also cause wipers to break. Keeping your windshield clear is paramount in safely operating a vehicle, so you don’t want to be stranded without effective wipers (or enough wiper fluid).
Pro tip: When replacing your wipers as part of regular car maintenance, save the old wipers for emergencies.
We know that it’s always a good idea to have extra water in your vehicle. In the winter months, however, you may want to supplement your hydration supply with sports drinks, which typically freeze at a lower temperature than water.
Additional Warning Devices (Flares and Reflective Triangles)
Warning devices should be part of your year-round roadside kit, but you’re more likely to use them in the colder months. The sun sets earlier during the winter, increasing the odds that it will be dark outside while you’re dealing with your emergency. Being stuck on the side of the road in the dark without any (or enough) warning devices can be very dangerous.
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What emergency items do you keep in your winter driving kit? Let us know in the comments below.
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