DIY Winter Survival Kit for Your Car
Prepare Your Car Winter Emergency Car Kit
From starting your car to keeping you warm, the following items can help keep you going if you find yourself in a slick situation when driving this winter:
Find a big, transparent storage bin with a sealable lid
Use this to store the majority of the items listed below, and be sure that it can fit neatly into your car.
Get a long set of 15 feet or more — and be sure to learn how to jumpstart a car so you're prepared if you need to use them!
Having a few on hand will allow you to hand one off to someone if they need to walk at night to seek help. Stock extra batteries too.
In cold climates, this is a must. Get one with a brush on one end and hard scraper on the other. Don’t forget to wipe headlights and tail lights, as well as windshield wipers.
A five-pound bag of sand, road salt or kitty litter
This will come in handy if you slide off the road and need traction to get out of the snow. Pour it sparingly under each tire and slowly back out — if possible. If you’re in a pinch without these items, you can always use your car mat.
A good snow shovel
Odds are, you’ll need to dig out yourself or someone else at some point over the winter.
Chemical hand and foot warmers
Buy these small, inexpensive packets in sporting goods and hardware stores. Your toasty fingers and toes will thank you!
Warm clothes and a blanket.
Keep an extra hat, scarf, pair of mittens and boots in your car. A good winter-rated sleeping bag is a nice addition too. You’ll have additional layers if you unexpectedly have to walk for help or simply want to stop to admire the sights. You never know when they'll come in handy!
Food with a long shelf life
Pack a few cans of easy-open beans, protein bars, a small unopened jar of peanut butter, and a bag of crackers. Bring along several bottles of water on the day of travel, but store these separately because they may freeze if left in your vehicle on cold days.
A six-pack of 30 minute road flares
These can be found at most auto parts stores, and often come with a highly reflective orange vest in a convenient carrying case. Use these for signaling help or starting a fire. Keep these stored away from children.
If you’re snowed in and stuck, you can let the sun charge your phone with a solar charger and seek help once service is in range. Also remember to have a standard plug-in charger and chord as well for your phone.
Spare wiper blades.
It’s a good idea to swap out your wiper blades as winter approaches. If the ones on your car are a little worn but still usable, hold onto them when you get new ones.
A good first aid kit
This one is a must. And, when you’re traveling in winter, be sure to bring along a few days’ worth of necessary medication, just to be on the safe side.
A small, well-stocked emergency toolkit
These can be purchased at hardware stores or online. Be sure yours has a good multi-tool with a knife.
Getting through a mountain pass with even an inch of snow on the ground can be harrowing, and having a set of chains on your wheels is sometimes required. When ice and snow pile up on the interstate, chains can keep you moving. Practice putting these on and taking them off on a warm day.
Apps for Driving in the Winter
Did you know there are apps that convert your phone to a walkie-talkie, where you can call for help, even when you’re out of cell range? Another must have is a good weather app to get up-to-date details on weather conditions according to your GPS location. There are apps for helping you find parking to simulating driving in winter traffic. Do some research and find out what apps to download before hitting the road.
Store the Right Car Insurance
Having the right car insurance before you hit the road this winter is key to keeping your finances safe. Check in with your American Family Insurance agent to ensure your coverages are set up to best protect you. Ask about adding coverage, like rental car reimbursement, will help cover the cost of a rental car if your vehicle is in the shop after an accident. Or emergency roadside service, which is a saving grace if you get stranded on the road.
Readying yourself for winter driving and road emergencies is an important way to stay safe on the road, and much like having the right insurance in place, you'll be glad you took the time and prepared for the unexpected.