distances can be daunting
Whether you run out of fuel, puncture a tire,
or slip off a snowy road, a car emergency kit can
help you get back on the road safely and quickly.
Keep the following supplies in your winter
car kit. Emergencies can happen to anyone. Prepare
for the worst-case scenario, especially in
In addition to the items listed below, a cell
phone is highly advised. Make sure your cell
phone is charged every time you get in the car
and keep a cell phone charger in your car.
Car emergency kit list
Keep the below items in a bag in your trunk,
ideally, in a clear, plastic container so it’s easy to
see and locate everything. Pre-packaged kits are
available to purchase or create your own.
In an emergency situation, in addition to a
full tank of gas and fresh antifreeze, the National
Safety Council recommends having these with
you at all times:
• Blankets, mittens, socks and hats,
• Ice scraper and snow brush,
• Flashlight, plus extra batteries (or a handcrank
• Jumper cables,
• First-aid kit including Band-Aids, adhesive
tape, antiseptic wipes, gauze pads, antiseptic
cream, medical wrap,
• Bottled water, a plastic bottle won’t break
if it freezes.
• Multi-tool, such as a Leatherman tool or a
Swiss Army knife,
• Road flares or reflective warning triangles,
• Windshield cleaner.
Extra supplies for frigid weather
For those in wintry snowy areas, add the
below items to your emergency kit:
• A bag of sand to help with traction or bag of
non-clumping cat litter,
• Collapsible or folding snow shovel
• Tire chains and tow strap,
• Hand warmers,
• Winter boots for longer trips, and
• Sleeping bag for longer trips.
• Small fire extinguisher, 5-lb., Class B and
Class C type, in case of a car fire,
• Tire gauge to check inflation pressure in all
four tires and the spare tire,
• Jack and lug wrench to change a tire,
• Rags and hand cleaner, such as baby wipes,
• Duct tape,
• Foam tire sealant for minor tire punctures,
• Rain poncho,
• Nonperishable high-energy foods, such as
unsalted and canned nuts, granola bars, raisins
and dried fruit, peanut butter and hard candy,
• Battery- or handcrank-powered radio,
• Lighter and box of matches in a waterproof
• Scissors and string or cord,
• Spare change and cash,
• Compass, and
• Paper maps
Before you go
If you must travel, make sure you share your
travel plans and route with someone before you
If you become stranded in bad winter
weather, do not leave your car. Don’t try to push
your vehicle out of snow. Light flares in front
and behind the car and make sure the exhaust
pipe is not blocked by snow, mud or any object.
Besides checking the weather, it’s important
to have a mechanic check the condition of the
vehicle systems before heading out on the road.
Make sure tires are properly inflated. Keep your
gas tank filled above halfway to avoid a gas line
Avoid driving when you have the flu, which
can reduce your reaction time almost six times
as much as moderate alcohol intake.
Beware of black ice. Roads may look clear,
but they may still be slippery.
Stuck without traction and lacking sand or
cat litter? In a pinch, you can take the floor mats
out of your car, place them next to the tires, and
slowly inch the car onto and across the mats.
Make sure windows are defrosted and clear.
And be sure to clear snow and ice from the top
of the vehicle! Gently rub a small, moistened,
cloth bag of iodized salt on the outside of your
windshield to prevent the ice and snow from
To restore proper windshield wiper blade action,
smooth the rubber blades with fine sandpaper
to remove any grit and pits. Fog-proof your
mirrors and the inside of your windshields with
shaving cream. Spray and wipe it off with paper
Increase following distance to 8 to 10 seconds.
If possible, avoid using your parking brake
in cold, rainy and snowy weather. Do not use
cruise control in wintry conditions
Look and steer in the direction you want to
go. Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Know
whether you have antilock brakes, which will
“pump” the brakes for you in a skid. If possible,
don’t stop when going uphill.
Signal distress with a brightly colored cloth
tied to the antenna or in a rolled-up window