An unexpected car-related emergency is stressful in the best of times and can be even worse if it takes place during the cold winter months. That’s why it’s so important to be prepared, especially during the winter.
We’ve put together a list of seven items to keep in your car during the winter. Having these things in your car can keep you safe in the event of an accident or a car breakdown.
In the event that you get stranded in the cold, prepare a winter car survival kit, or emergency kit, filled with some basic essentials that may come in handy if a winter storm hits. A basic car emergency kit should contain the following essentials for winter:
- Food that won't spoil, such as energy bars
- Water—plastic bottles that won't break if the water freezes (replace them every six months)
- Extra clothing and shoes or boots
- First aid kit with seatbelt cutter
- Small shovel, scraper, and snowbrush
- Candle in a deep can and matches (this can help keep your car warm)
- Wind up flashlight
- Whistle—in case you need to attract attention
- Copy of your emergency plan
Scraping snow and ice off your car is an unavoidable chore if you park your car outside in the winter. Driving with snow on your vehicle is dangerous, as it can hinder your view or fly off and impact another driver on the road. Fortunately, even a stubborn coating of ice is easy to clear with a bit of elbow grease and a great ice scraper.
Which type of ice scraper should you choose?
The type of ice scraper you need depends on where you live and how much snow your region gets. Here are a few things to consider:
- If your region sees limited snowfall, but plenty of cold mornings, then a simple ice scraper is probably all you need.
- For moderate snowfall, a scraper that also features a brush is a good idea, as these devices allow you to remove the top layer of snow. Next, chisel away at the ice coating the windows.
- If your region sees huge volumes of snow, you might need a larger snow broom type of device that's big enough to push off snow that has piled up atop your car.
Another tool you can consider adding to your arsenal is de-icer. De-icer is sprayed on your windshield and wipers to melt ice and frost on impact. It also prevents buildup of ice, sleet, and snow. If you want to make scraping off your car a bit easier, this is a great thing to have. It can be purchased for a nominal amount at your local hardware store.
In some ways, technology helps keep us safer. If you find yourself in an emergency, a quick phone call can be a life saver! However, your cell phone won’t be very helpful if it’s out of battery! You can prevent this from happening by doing the following:
- Keep your electronics away from the cold as much as possible
- Keep an extra charger handy
- Check your battery capacity
- Consider having a backup device in the winter
- Keep extra batteries in your emergency kit for things like a flashlight
Carrying a spare tire in your vehicle can save you stress if you get a flat tire. The spare tire must be of good quality and in sound condition.
In addition to a spare tire, make sure you have winter tires! In cold weather, even on dry roads, the softer, more flexible rubber used in the construction of winter tires provides better traction than all-season tires when it's cold out.
Emergency flares or reflectors
Getting your car stuck any time of year is inconvenient and it can be extremely dangerous in winter. If there is a lot of snow, or even a storm, it can be difficult for other cars, tow trucks, or emergency vehicles to spot you, especially at nighttime. Reflectors or emergency flares can be life savers. Make sure you have these in your car, especially in the winter months.
A shovel, some rope and kitty litter?
The last place you want to be is stuck in the snow. However, if it happens and you’re prepared, you should be fine. A small shovel can help you clear a path. You can use rock salt, sand, or even kitty litter to gain traction. Spread the material in the area around your tires if you are in a slippery area. Finally, if you are really stuck you may need a rope, chain, or tow chain to help you out. However, using these tools can be dangerous, so unless you have experience, call professional roadside service for help.
The battery of your car can be affected by cold weather which may cause it to drain faster. If your battery is dead, your car won’t start and when you can’t start your car, you can’t turn on the heat!
If you have jumper cables with you, it will be a lot easier to get a jump from a neighbour or passing driver. You might also be able to help someone else who needs a jump!
Let us help you prepare for the moments you can’t plan for
Winter driving can be stressful but if you plan ahead and keep essential items in your car, you can drive in peace knowing you have the tools you need, in the event of a winter-driving situation.
FAQS on being prepared for winter driving
Where should I store my winter emergency car kit?
Keep your winter kit readily available and accessible in your car trunk or the back seat.
What can I do to stay safe driving during winter?
- Get a winter tune-up that includes checking:
- Headlight functionality
- Windshield washer fluids
- Install winter tires for the snowy season.
- Have a flat tire inflation canister (non-explosive) in your vehicle
- When driving, keep a safe distance behind the car in front of you
- Drive slower than the speed limit when driving in unfavourable conditions
- Pack an emergency kit as well as extra gloves, boots, a hat, and a blanket
What should I store my winter emergency items in?
Store your winter car supplies in a durable canvas bag or a bin.