A car emergency kit is a selection of essential items to help you deal with the unexpected. When winter draws in, it is essential to consider the difficulties you may face and prepare accordingly when packing your trunk prior to departure. A well-stocked car emergency kit will allow you to react competently to a breakdown or accident, and could save either your life, or that of another motorist.
Bare necessities for a winter car emergency kit
First Aid Kit
Injuries can happen in snowy weather with great ease. A simple slip can render you helpless and almost immobile. By ensuring you have a first aid kit containing clean dressing, bandages, splints, and antiseptic, you can provide emergency first aid until medical assistance arrives.
Winter nights can draw in early, and you cannot rely on your car light to illuminate the scene if you break down. A flashlight can be purchased cheaply at a wide array of stores, just make sure the batteries in it are fully charged and take some spares.
These are essential for your safety and that of other motorists. Winter visibility can often be poor, and a large number of accidents are caused by vehicles colliding with stationary cars they could not see until it was too late. If you break down or skid off the road, light your flares to warn other motorists and draw attention to your distress.
A fully charged cell phone and change for a pay-phone: Both of these are an essential. If your cell phone can still receive signal, you can call emergency services or a tow truck for assistance. A few quarters for a pay-phone may seem unnecessary, but during a blizzard a cell can lose signal, and you may need to walk to a pay-phone to place that urgent call. Granted, when was the last time you’ve seen a pay phone?
Cold weather can put a great deal of strain on even the most well-maintained vehicles. A basic repair kit, including a screwdriver, wrenches and other essentials will enable you to complete simple repairs and get back on the road quickly.
Snow can be unpredictable in both its depth and appearance, and all too often cars become stuck in drifts. If you have a shovel on hand, you can often dig your way out of a sticky situation. By carrying something high-traction, such as cat litter or coffee grounds, you can also provide your carís tires with a gritty surface when trying to escape from a stranding incident.
Slipping off the road is easy to do in hazardous conditions, and by having a heavy duty tow rope, you can either help out fellow motorists if they are stuck, or make sure you have the equipment necessary for any other helpful passerby to drag your car out of a ditch.
Scrapers, deicing solution and antifreeze: Visibility is crucial when traveling in the snow, and cold weather along with moisture means ice can build up on your windscreens, mirrors and lights. Make sure you have all the tools necessary to clear them, allowing you to see the road ahead.
An independent radio: Do not rely on your car radio to work during a breakdown event. Take either a wind-up or battery powered radio and keep it tuned in to the weather report. This will help you stay up-to-date with the changing climatic conditions and allow you to adjust your travel plans accordingly.
GPS System or Map
Knowing where you are during a breakdown or accident can hasten the response of emergency tow vehicles, and also allow you to determine the nearest source of food and shelter.
It is worth bearing in mind that even with all these supplies, you may be stuck for several hours in subzero temperatures while you wait for help to arrive. The carís heating may be inoperable or otherwise unable to sustain you, and the risk of hypothermia can be very real.
Other items needed during a winter car emergency.
As such, it is also essential to pack the following personal supplies:
Layering is important, and can help you keep body heat close to your skin. Make sure to take a thick water-resistant coat, gloves, hat, boots and scarf to protect you from the elements if you are outside making repairs or inside waiting for help.
These provide an extra dense layer. Choose a close weave and make sure it is big enough to wrap around you several times, covering your torso, limbs and extremities.
Non-perishable high calorie food and fluids: Food such as chocolate or other sugary items can be the ideal supply of energy for your body, which burns sugar and fat in an effort to keep warm. Think about how much food you would need for each person if you were stuck for four hours.
Water or energy drinks are also recommended, as they provide the hydration necessary to keep your body temperature stable.
Driving can be dangerous all year around, but never more so than in the winter months. By keeping these supplies readily available in your car, you can be prepared for an emergency, whatever the weather.