What to Pack in a Winter Emergency Car Kit

Winters in Michigan bring inclement weather, making driving conditions unpredictable.

While accidents can’t always be prevented, we can always prepare for them. We created a list of things you must have in your car in case of emergency. First, make sure any necessary car service is taken care of before you go anywhere and fill up the gas tank at the beginning of any trip.

Here is our winter car emergency kit:

  1. Phone charger or battery – An extra battery for your cell phone is a good idea, especially for those of us with smartphones that die quickly.
  2. Hand warmers and matches – Both of these are great for making heat if you find yourself stuck in subzero temps.
  3. Blankets – Blankets will provide an extra layer of warmth. You can also consider a sleeping bag.
  4. Food – Protein snack bars and non-perishable food are good options.
  5. Water – Bottles of water are smart to have in the car all year long, however avoid using plastic bottles of water labeled 3, 6 or 7. Those plastic bottles can leach BPA into drinking water. Some better alternatives include pouches of water and stainless steel water bottles.
  6. Shovel – Some stores sell smaller shovels that fit well in a trunk.
  7. Flashlight – Pack a waterproof flashlight with extra batteries in case you find yourself stuck in a remote, dark location.
  8. Ice scraper – Hopefully you already keep this in your car, but just in case, this is a must have in a snowstorm.
  9. First aid kit – Another item that is smart to have all year long.
  10. A bag of salt or sand – A bag of sand or salt is smart to keep in your car during the winter because it can provide traction if you need to get unstuck and it gives your car more weight in icy conditions.
  11. Jumper cables – If your car won’t start, jumper cables may be the quick fix you need.
  12. Tire sealant – Large chunks of ice on the road increase the chances of getting a flat tire. Tire sealant will repair the tire well enough to get to the next auto shop.
  13. Windshield washer fluid – Ice and snow lead to windshields with low visibility. Keep an extra bottle of windshield washer fluid so you can see the road.
  14. Sunglasses – Even though the weather is cooler than the summer months, sunglasses are still important to protect against the sun’s UV rays and help you see when you’re driving.
  15. Mini tool kit – You never know what problems your car may run into. Having a small tool kit will help you make quick repairs.
  16. Caution sign/Flares – Caution signs help to alert oncoming traffic when you’re pulled off to the side of the road. Flares could help you signal someone if you have no other way of communicating.

It is also a good idea to keep roadside assistance numbers in your car’s glove box or center console. If your car can’t be fixed easily, you’ll be able to contact help and get your car repaired.

We also have tips on what to do in a winter blackout at home.  Let us know if you have advice or a story about winter survival. Did we miss anything?

Photo credit: Banks Photos

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Read 9 Comments

  1. Thank you for the helpful list. I currently have a “winter emergency kit” in my car. Your list had some items that I do not have. Thanks for posting.

  2. Chicken grit is much better than sand or kitty litter and is readily available at farm supply stores. It is also environmentally friendly.

  3. The chicken grit gives better traction than salt or sand and provides more weight because it has greater density. Also, the wildlife consume it for their health when you are done with it.
    You may also want to consider a pair of yaktrax or some similar traction device for your shoes.

  4. I add the makings of a small heater. 2 different sized terra cotta pots, a metal bread pan, tea light candles, matches and a board to put it all on for safety. 4 tea lights in the metal pan, cover with small pot and then large pot. It will add a significant amount of heat to the car. I live in the mountains so weather can surprise me.

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