12 must-have winter car emergency kit items

A winter car emergency kit is essential for anyone who lives in an area prone to cold and snowy conditions. The low visibility snow brings coupled with earlier nightfall can make for tricky road situations even experienced drivers may get stuck in. The cold weather can wreak havoc on your car – reducing battery effectiveness by 50 percent and potentially causing tires to be flat for at least the first half mile of driving, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.

There are a few items you’ll want to keep in your car during the winter that will help get you through extreme driving situations, or at least make your wait for roadside assistance more tolerable.

In addition to the items below, before taking to the road it’s wise to make sure your cell phone is charged and your gas tank is full.

12 must-have winter car emergency kit items

Tools to get unstuck from snow and ice

You don’t have to be embarking on a long road trip in the mountains to find yourself stuck in snow. Even city dwellers can wake up to find a car buried thanks to a big storm or snow plow. Regardless of how your car gets stuck, these items will help you get back on the road.

  1. Kitty litter and rock salt – The kitty litter will help provide traction for a stuck vehicle and the rock salt will assist in melting the snow. Approximately two measures of kitty litter to every one measure of rock salt should suffice.
  2. Bleach – When stuck in the snow, pouring bleach on a cold tire will make the rubber softer and more porous, which will help the tire get more traction.
  3. Deicing fluid – In less extreme situations, deicing fluids can be very useful to remove ice from your windshield.
  4. Shovel and ice scrapper – These items are self-explanatory. A shovel can help you clear snow from around your tires while an ice scrapper can be used to chisel ice off your windshield.
  5. Multi-tool – Keeping this device in your glove compartment can make the difference between fixing your car yourself and waiting for assistance. A good multi-tool can function as a screwdriver, pliers and wrench.
  6. Supplies for comfort

    Whether you’re stranded in a rural area or on the side of the highway – you’re stranded. Having items in your winter car emergency kit that will keep you warm and safe are just as important as those that help get your vehicle unstuck.

  7. Hand warmers – This is a safer option than using candles to stay warm. Some hand warmer models can last up to 10 hours and are air-activated.
  8. Sleeping bag/thick blankets – In case of emergency, it’s best to have these materials to keep warm if stranded.
  9. Hand-crank flashlight – The winter months are typically darker due to cloud coverage and fewer hours of daylight. A flashlight will be useful if stranded or lost.
  10. Books – Some kind of entertainment can keep you active and motivated if you are trapped in your vehicle during a blizzard.
  11. Cell phone charger – Having a cell phone is great – as long as there is enough juice to make it work.
  12. Nonperishable food and water – Emergency food should be easy to consume and have a distant expiration date. Energy bars, dried fruits, nuts and even chocolate are good options. Be sure when packing water in your winter car emergency kit to not fill the water containers up all the way, as water expands when frozen, which may cause your containers to burst.
  13. First aid kit – Basic medical supplies like bandages, gauze, anti-inflammatory painkillers and scissors can tide you over until medical assistance arrives.

Note: This is not an all-inclusive list of items.

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