Recreational Activities December 1, 2023

Winter Emergency Car Kit

Winter Emergency Car Kit

So winter weather is here, and whether we like it or not, we’ve got to tackle it head-on. Maybe you’ve already winterized your house using our Seasonal Maintenance Checklist, but there are other aspects of life that need some attention in the cold too. I get it, no one really wants to brave the freezing weather, but with work and holiday plans, hitting the road is inevitable. That’s why it’s a smart move to put together a winter emergency car kit. Trust me, it can be a lifesaver if you find yourself stuck in the cold.

So, here’s a list of items that I think you should consider putting in your winter emergency car kit and why I think they could be crucial in an emergency situation:

First Aid Kit

This one is kind of a given, but make sure you have a first aid kit stored in your car.  Injuries and medical emergencies can happen anytime, so a well-stocked first aid kit is your go-to for immediate assistance. My tip? Personalize it with your essentials. Winter can worsen health issues, so having necessary medications is a must. Remember to bring items like an inhaler or an Epipen if you use them.

Hat & Gloves/Warming Gear

Cold temperatures can lead to hypothermia, so warm clothing is a must as it helps maintain body heat. Cold extremities can mess with your hands’ agility, making it tough to handle things. If you find yourself in a situation where you are dependent upon having accurate hand dexterity to perform tasks like changing a tire or digging yourself out of a snowbank, you’ll want to have your body warm enough to function.


Breakdown or stranded? Blankets provide insulation and ward off hypothermia. I would recommend saving up until you can afford a below zero degree mummy sleeping bag to keep packed in your trunk. Make sure if you do buy one of these it packs away well enough to fit a small storage space. But for a start, keeping a wool blanket will do. Wool is water resistant and a warm alternative option.

Non-perishable Foods

Stash some energy-packed snacks for when you’re stranded. Trust me on this one, I have unfortunately been in a situation where I was stranded for hours, with a little one in tow, with nothing to eat or drink and it wasn’t a fun time. Plus, eating also generates heat through digestion, helping to keep you warm. So keep your tummy happy and pack non-perishables like trail mix just in case you get caught out in the cold.

Updated Car Insurance and Information

Crucial for roadside assistance. It makes communicating with emergency responders and towing services much smoother.

Power Bank for Your Phone

A charged phone is essential for communication in emergencies. Cold temps and long calls can drain your phone, so a power bank is a must. Plus if you’re running your heat, or worse, if your battery goes out altogether, having an external power bank for your phone will put you in the best position to get help quickly. 

Self-Starting Jumper Cables

Don’t rely on others. Be independent in jump-starting your vehicle. You never know when help may arrive when the winter roads are treacherous. Also, as an added bonus, many of these types of Jump Starters are multifunctional; meaning, you can tick off multiple items from your winter emergency car kit with one item. I’ve seen ones that house charging ports, air compressors, a flashlight and so on. This is an investment item that you may have to save up for, so if it’s outside of your means this winter, at minimum pack your jumper cables! 

Tire Chains, Tire Sealant, Portable Tire Air Compressor

Winter roads can be icy; tire chains provide traction. Sealant and compressor fix punctures and maintain tire pressure.

Emergency LED Flare

Long gone are the days of worrying that rain or snowfall or time will douse your emergency light marker. Emergency LED Flares are here to stay. They are durable, waterproof, reusable and will boost the distance of visible light it shines, helping responders to find you. A must for rescue teams and tow operators to locate you.

Flashlight or LED Lantern

It’s amazing how bright an LED flashlight can be. I unsuspectingly bought one not knowing its true power and was shocked when I turned it on for the first time, while camping at Zion National Park, to watch my entire campsite light up, as well the ones neighboring us. A flashlight will help you inspect your vehicle or find your way in low light. It can also be used to help guide rescuers to you if your flare is not operational. Keep backup batteries or an external power bank if it’s rechargeable, as cold drains them quickly.

Foldable Shovel

Dig out snow around your tires or create a pathway if your car is stuck. With that added convenience of being able to store it in tight spaces. 

Tow Rope

Essential if your vehicle gets stuck. A tow rope can be a lifesaver.

Bag of Sand/Cat Litter/Tire Traction Mats

Improve traction on icy surfaces. Bonus tip- you can use your vehicles car mats if you don’t have purpose-built traction mats.

Full Tank of Gas

Keep the engine running for warmth if stranded. The added weight helps with wheel traction in the snow.

Water/Electrolyte Drinks

Stay hydrated. Electrolyte drinks replenish essential nutrients and water is a basic human necessity. Ideally, you should store a few of these in your car. But, the cold weather may be enough to freeze them, making them less useful. That’s why I recommend you grab some when filling your gas tank.

Candles, Fireproof Jar, Lighter, and Fireproof Surface

In extreme cold, create a controlled heat source inside the vehicle for warmth while waiting for assistance. For this you’ll need a tealight a can or terracotta pot, something to prop it up upon and a non-flammable surface to put underneath it. Hopefully you won’t find yourself in an overnight situation where you would need something like this. But if you do, at least you’ll be prepared for it. 

Putting together this winter survival kit ensures you’re prepared for challenges, big or small.

As we navigate winter, extending our preparations beyond home maintenance is crucial. A winter emergency car kit is a practical move that could make a significant difference. From health essentials to tools for vehicle issues, each item ensures your safety in cold weather. So, before you hit the road this winter, take a second to assemble your kit. Stay safe, stay warm, and happy travels!


Kerriann Jenkins