Snow. Black ice. Freezing temps. Winter driving conditions vary from a slight nuisance to extreme hazard. But with the right gear and a little prep, you can put yourself in a better position to deal with an accident or unexpected delay while on a cold, wintry road. Here are 10 items to stash in your winter driving kit.
1. A folding shovel
If you find yourself suddenly snowed in or stuck in a snow bank, a good shovel can be a lifesaver. Check out compact, lightweight folding varieties that store easily in the trunk.
2. A windshield scraper and de-icer
Make sure you carry a decent windshield scraper to get snow and ice off your windshield and mirrors. For extreme ice build-up, consider using a de-icer to save you precious time and energy.
3. Extra water and high-energy snack foods
Even in cold weather, staying hydrated is extremely important. Bring along a few bottles of clean water with you before you head out. And stow some high-energy snack foods with a long shelf life (like energy bars, unsalted trail mix, and hard candy) in your car at all times.
4. Emergency signaling device
Flares are incredibly useful if you’re stuck in snow — they can be used to start a signal fire, and the heat they emit helps them stay visible in heavy snow conditions. Battery-powered signals are valuable too and have the benefit of staying lit longer than a flare.
5. A flashlight with extra batteries
Save the battery power on your cell phone and use a spare flashlight instead.
6. A way to charge your cell phone
Being able to use your cell phone is going to be a huge help in any emergency. Whether you carry a portable charger, power pack, or adapter, make sure you have a reliable, remote way to charge your cell phone when your battery gets low.
7. Jumper Cables
It’s important to have them in your vehicle year-round. Jumper cables should be at least 10 feet and coated with at least 8-gauge rubber.
8. A first-aid kit
A basic first-aid kit with bandages, gauze, a cleaning agent, and pain relievers is a must-have for your car kit in every season.
9. Warm clothes and a blanket
If you need to use your car as a temporary shelter, you won’t be able to run the engine for heat indefinitely. Bring extra layers that can keep warm (think knit hats, a pair of socks, gloves, and a warm blanket). Hand and feet warmers are also easy to store and can help keep you toasty in case of emergency.
10. Snow socks or chains
If you get stuck and need that little bit of extra traction to get your car moving, snow chains or snow socks (which are easier to install than chains) can help give you the grip you need.
This list is a great starting point for any vehicle winter driving kit. You also need to grab household items, such as litter, rock salt, matches or a lighter. Remember, there are a multitude of additional items that can be added to individualize the kit to your personal needs. If you have your dog with you often, make sure to account for that. If you have kids, make sure that your vehicle emergency kit is prepared for any and all passengers. Keep safe this winter, be prepared for any and all weather. Drive safe!