The significance of motorists being prepared for winter emergencies cannot be stressed enough. Some of the most frequent causes of breakdowns in cold weather, like a flat tire or a dead battery, can be fixed without calling roadside service if you have the right gear in the car. 

Being well prepared and adequately stocked ahead of a long journey or even just a daily commute helps avert extended hours of trouble in case of any emergency.   

Even if you are no stranger to winter weather, some helpful reminders never hurt! Here are some top essentials you need to have in your vehicle for winter emergencies!  

Winter Driving Tips: Essentials to Keep in Your Car in Case of Winter Emergencies 

Cell Phone and Portable Charger 

Aside from all other necessary items mentioned below, always carry your phone with you. Make sure it is charged every time you travel by car. Also, keep a spare cell phone charger and a rechargeable battery pack in your emergency kit. 

General Essentials 

  • Long life, high-energy foods such as nuts, granola bars, dried fruit, or beef jerky. Mae sure there is enough for everyone on board. 
  • Water in insulated water bottles 
  • First aid kit including medical tape, antiseptic wipes, adhesive bandages, gauze pads, antiseptic cream, and pocketknife 
  • Wipes and washcloths 
  • Pain reliever and other essential medications (especially if you are diabetic or have some other serious health consideration)

Warming Essentials 

  • Wool socks, coats, gloves, scarves, and blankets 
  • Hiking boots in case you have to get out of the vehicle and walk towards help
  • Sleeping bags

Tool Kit Essentials 

  • Battery-powered flashlight, extra, and flares 
  • Reflective triangle and high visibility jacket to ensure you and your car are visible if your car becomes disabled
  • Jumper cables, booster cables with charged battery. Having a weak battery is extremely common in winter. Jump leads allow another car to help kick start yours when the battery refuses to start. 
  • Main tool kit
  • Battery-powered radio  
  • Handy fire extinguisher (5-pound, Class B or Class C type) for car fires 
  • Tire pressure gauge 
  • Canned compressed air and foam sealant for backup tire repair 
  • Tow chains 
  • Ice scraper for freeing iced windows. Put an ice scraper and snow brush in your car as soon as the cold weather hits. Snow and ice on cars are dangerous because they could obstruct your view or fly off and hit another car. Always clear your ENTIRE car of snow and ice before driving to prevent a crash. 
  • Portable shovel to clear snow from exhaust pipe. This is essential since a blocked exhaust pipe can cause deadly carbon monoxide gas to leak into the vehicle while the engine is on. 
  • Sand or cat litter for improving traction. These coarse materials will help your tires gain traction if your vehicle is stuck in the snow. Spread the material near your tires and in your car’s path to get out of a slippery situation. 
  • Road salt 
  • Extra antifreeze 
  • Duct tape 
  • Spare tire 
  • Jack and lug wrench to change tires 
  • Scissors and string or cord 
  • Spare change and cash 
  • Compass 
  • Extra set of batteries 
  • Paper Maps. An old-fashioned paper map can help you out in case you get lost and your devices are out of battery and network. 

Aside from the above-mentioned tools and items, it is important to be mindful of some things when you are commuting by car during winter. 

  • Heed weather warnings. Keep an eye out for forecasts both where you are at and where you will be traveling.  
  • Do not leave home without all the essentials, even if it’s for a short distance. 
  • Do not leave with a half empty gas tank. Your engine is your best friend in case of emergencies, so make sure you have a full gas tank when you head out. 
  • If the weather seems too unstable to continue, turn back.  
  • To keep warm with zero moving traffic, switch between keeping the engine running for a short while and turning it off for the rest of the hour. This helps conserve gas and keeps you considerably warm too. 
  • Do not get out of the car unless you are certain of the way or help is right around the corner.  
  • In moving traffic, avoid using cruise control. Leave at least double the distance between yourself and the vehicle ahead of you.  
  • Avoid sudden braking or steering to minimize chance of skidding. 

There are ways for drivers to better protect themselves and their families in these types of situations, which can become dangerous without proper preparation. Sometimes with all the slipping and sliding, your vehicle can sustain dents or other auto body issues. If that happens, we’re here to help! Check out our auto body repair services here.