In our previous post about safe winter driving, we touched on what you need to have in your car should you happen to get stranded in winter. If you really want to be prepared for winter, assembling a winter car kit to place your car or truck will help you feel safe on the road.
In an emergency on the road, you’ll want more than your snow brush and scraper, gas can, and extra windshield wiper fluid! For your winter car kit, get a plastic storage tub or use a reusable shopping bag to contain the items you might need. Choose something that tucks away in a corner of your trunk or vehicle cab.
The number one thing you will want in case of a dead battery is a set of jumper cables. Make sure the cables you get are suited to your vehicle. If you have side posts on your battery, that may mean you want a different type of jumper cable. Ask your mechanic or the auto parts store what type of jumper cables will work best for your car, truck, or SUV.
Blankets & Warmers
It’s always a good idea to have a blanket in your vehicle—not only if you get stranded, but also if you are in an accident and someone is injured. Let’s hope you never need that blanket to keep someone from going into shock after an accident.
In addition, instant hand warmers and toe warmers offer a wonderful option for further comfort in case you get stuck in the snow or have to walk in inclement, cold weather. Find these at retail stores and grocery stores. They come in flat plastic packages, so pack a few in your winter car kit. If you’ve never used them, they activate when you open the package and expose them to air. The toe warmers stick to your sock and warm your toes when in boots or shoes. They work well for outdoor sports events, hunting, and other cold-weather activities.
Some handy items to have in your car over the winter months include things that can help improve your traction. It would be ideal to have a small shovel in case you need to dig out, as well as something like sand or clay cat litter. To save space, you can put the sand or cat litter in a sturdy old 2-liter bottle.
Flashlights & Road Flares
If you’re stranded at night on an Iowa road, it can be incredibly dark. We recommend having a USB-powered rechargeable flashlight in the truck or car. Recharge it the night before you go on a trip, or plug it into your vehicle when you head out.
Road flares provide another option for emergency signaling and light. They don’t require an outside power source, but they also burn hot and don’t last very long. Most last about 20 minutes, so a set of several might be a good idea. Some come in kits that attach to the underside of a seat or out of the way in the trunk. Beware of using them in dry climates and periods of drought, as they could start a fire.
Not only can you make yourself seen with a reflective vest, but you can also use reflective triangles to further alert people to your vehicle being pulled off of the road. Reflective gear calls attention to you when changing a tire or working on or around your vehicle. Even truckers use the reflective triangles these days, as they do not require open flame like road flares. If you can find a rain poncho with reflective material on it, or rig that up yourself with reflective tape, all the better! Finally, keep any extra reflective tape in your kit, too. It might come in handy.
Before you go on a road trip, add a few nonperishable and first aid items to your road kit. The foods might include raw nuts, dried fruit, or granola bars. For the first aid kit, include the basics, like gauze, tape, and bandages as well as an instant cold pack, pain reliever, and antibiotic ointment. Drinking water is another good idea, but keep in mind you can’t keep it in your car when it is very cold without it freezing solid, so plan accordingly.
The Extra List
If you really want an emergency car kit that gives you complete peace of mind, consider creating the ultimate winter emergency car kit. First, get another car charger for your cell phone so you always have a cable handy. Some other extra items you could in your winter emergency kit include:
· Flat tire inflation canister
· Emergency car battery charger
· Solar USB charger
· Multipurpose tool
· Towing strap
· Boots, socks, mittens
· A quart of oil
A couple of the pricier items on this list are the emergency car battery charger and solar USB charger or power bank. A solar charger or solar power bank can sit in your back window charging up your family’s devices while on the road. It will also work if your car battery goes dead, and it could even be used at home to charge devices. A portable car battery charger provides another option even when you are at home. Some find this easier to use than jumper cables.
No matter which direction you head, a winter car kit will help keep you and your family safe for holiday and winter road trips.