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Winter emergency car kit

Having a winter emergency car kit in the back or trunk of your vehicles is a good winter driving strategy. Whether you are driving a short distance or going on a long driving trip in winter weather, there are some key items you need keep with you at all times.

You could end up with two types of winter "emergency kits", these are:

  • Everyday driving needs
  • Long driving trips.

Both types will help you to anticipate and cope with most winter situations. You

may not physically have two storage tubs although it may make sense to keep them separate or just add the long trip extras when you need them.

Most used winter kit items

For everyday driving needs in winter, you'll need two critical items. These are:

  • Snow brush that also has an ice scraper on the other end
  • Small ice scraper.

Snow brushes come with the bristles on the side so you would clear snow in a sweeping motion. inches in lenght. The other type of snow brush is in the shape of a "T". For this style, you would brush the snow toward you then sweep to the side of the vehicle. The size may vary but they are usually between 18" to 24" for both types.

Having a smaller, separate scraper (which looks "Y" shaped) gives you better griping power because of the shorter handle to dislodge the thicker ice on your windshield. The length of the scraper is approximatley 8". The larger combined brush and ice scraper style I mentioned above is more awkward to handle and gives you less scraping power I think.

To be well prepared for the vagaries of winter weather, put them in your car in mid fall and take them out well into spring the following year.

Being winter emergency kit prepared

You can decide what's going to be most useful to you when you assemble your winter emergency car kit. You may think that you won't need of all it, and you might not. However, it only takes one instance of being massively inconvenienced by the winter weather to realize that being over-prepared is way better than being under prepared.

Winter season essentials

Think about keeping these items in the glove box year round (even the hand warmers as they will only be activated inside your gloves or boots).

  • Emergency cash
  • Flashlight and batteries
  • Hand and feet warmers (small chemical packets to slip into gloves or boots)
  • Phone charger cable.

Winter emergency car kit checklist

What I've included below is by no means absolutely everything although is does come close! These are the most common items that most people keep handy and are useful. Quite often, you might need some of the items during your everyday trips like a snow brush while others you'll only need on occasion. Although it looks like a long list, all of it will fit comfortably in your vehicle, some loose in side pockets, in the dashboard, on the back seat or in its dedicated storage box in the back compartment or trunk.

You can also buy pre-assembled emergency kits if you don't want to create your own emergency car kit.

For your emergency kit box, you'll need:

  • Jumper cables for boosting a car battery
  • One or more long-handled snow brushes
  • Small shovel
  • Ice scrapers
  • Rubber traction mats or
  • Bag of sand or non-clumping cat litter for road traction to get unstuck in snow
  • Car tool kit and swiss army knife
  • First aid kit and pocket knife
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Rug or blanket
  • Paper towels, tissues or some rags
  • Waterproof matches
  • Flares, reflective road triangles or fluorescent distress flag or warning lights
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Fully charged phone and phone charger and battery
  • Windshield washer fluid
  • Antifreeze
  • Spare windshield wipers
  • Fan belt
  • Oil (winter oil if appropriate)
  • Methyl Hydrate (to de-ice the fuel line)
  • Nylon tow rope
  • Bottles of water
  • One or two large outdoor garbage bags (to wear or lie on)
  • Road maps and compass.

Long distance driving

For any long distance driving, you'll also need additional things like:

  • Non perishable food, enough for 24 hours like snack food, packet drinks, water, fruit and fruit bars, trail mix, or anything that's easy to transport and eat
  • Extra winter clothing like gloves, socks, hats, winter coats
  • Extra baby supplies
  • Extra blanket or sleeping bag
  • Extra small pillows
  • Spare winter boots
  • Safety vest with fluorescent stripes
  • Extra medications
  • Can opener and plastic utensils
  • Empty gas can
  • De-icer for frozen locks
  • Long extension cord for block heater in your car
  • Tire chains
  • Extra windshield washer fluid
  • Extra oil (a winter oil which is more viscous i.e. denser)
  • Fully charged cell phone
  • Large empty plastic container modified for an emergency toilet

Storing your winter emergency car kit

A good strategy is to keep what you need in a large moulded plastic storage container that's easy to fit into the back of your vehicle.

For everyday driving, we keep one in our van with just the basics that we think necessary (jumper cables, tire pressure, wet wipes, flashlights to name a few). However, we also have another storage container that we take on long trips during winter when we go skiing. Otherwise, it stays in a closet until we need it. We'll do a quick check to make sure everything is there, check the batteries and we are ready to go.

Maintaining your winter emergency car kit

Before storing your winter emergency car kit, it's a good idea to check what needs to be replaced or repaired or added to so it's ready to go next winter. However, remember to check everything again in late fall to be safe.

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