Make sure your car is ready for winter

distances can be daunting

for travel.

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

• Blanket,

• Tire chains and tow strap,

• Hand warmers,

• Winter boots for longer trips, and

• Sleeping bag for longer trips.

Other essentials:

• 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


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