How to Make an Effective Winter Survival Kit for Your Car

Kamil Macniak /
min read
Updated: 13 June 2023
Written by
Insuranceopedia Staff
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Key Takeaways

  • Winter weather makes driving risky. Be prepared for almost anything by keeping a well-stocked emergency kit in your car.

The wild winter weather is here, and with it comes the risk of car trouble. Your car could refuse to start. You could get into an accident (be prepared by learning The First Steps You Need to Take After Wrecking Your Car). You may find yourself with dead car battery and no cell service. You never know what can happen when freezing weather, snow, and sleet combine.

While you might not be able to avoid slippery streets, you can make sure you’re always prepared for an emergency on the road (one of our 9 Holiday Insurance Risks to Keep in Mind).

To be prepared for anything this winter, you need to keep a winter survival kit in your car. Luckily for you, making one of these safety essentials is pretty simple – you just need to know what to stock in it.

The Most Important Thing

Before you prepare your kit, you need to understand one thing: keeping your car serviced and running well is much more important than what you keep in its trunk. You can avoid the vast majority of winter weather issues by keeping your vehicle in great shape.

Change and top off all the fluids in your car. Make sure you flush your cooling and heating system every couple years. Pay attention to antifreeze levels and winter windshield wiper fluid (see Why You Need Snow Tires This Winter for more helpful advice). Next, check everything listed below for functionality and fluids:

  • Antifreeze
  • Radiator
  • Emergency flashers
  • Heater
  • Defroster
  • Windshield wipers and fluids
  • Oil level
  • Tire pressure
  • Battery charge
  • Fuel level
  • Brakes and fluid

Keep Some Light

Always have a flashlight with you while driving. And not one on your phone. You need a good, old-fashioned flashlight in case engine problems come up and you need to check something in the dark.

Jumper Cables

You’ll want a set of good jumper cables when you’re on the road. You never know when your battery will run out, especially with the cold weather factored in. Buy a high-quality set that’s at least 12 feet long for your winter weather survival kit.

First Aid Kit

You never know when you’ll be stranded on the road with an injury to tend to. Having a first aid kit on hand can save a life. Make sure you keep the kit fully stocked with all the appropriate items and medications.

Emergency Tools

Emergencies come in many forms, which makes it hard to predict what you might need when you find yourself in one. With that in mind, you’ll need a plethora of emergency tools in your winter weather kit. Some notable ones include:

  • Cellphone
  • Cellphone charger
  • Emergency flares
  • Small shovel
  • Pocket knife
  • Waterproof matches
  • Distress flag
  • Battery-powered radio
  • Bag of salt
  • Rope
  • Windshield scraper

Stay Warm Out There

It can be difficult to stay warm when your car dies in the winter. You’re probably not dressed too warmly if you were heading somewhere indoors. As such, you’ll want to keep some supplies in your emergency kit that will help maintain the heat. Make sure to include these items:

  • Blanket
  • Jacket(s)
  • Sleeping bag
  • Socks
  • Gloves
  • Winter hats
  • Hand warmers

Food For All

Stocking up on food and water is also vital in the winter. You don’t want to be stranded for days on end with little to no nourishment. Luckily, this isn’t too complex. A 24 pack of bottled water in your vehicle along with a few dozen granola bars can sustain you while you await rescue.

One Final Tip

Having a rescue tool on hand could save your life. These tools are used to cut seatbelts and break the glass. If your car is submerged in water, you won’t be able to roll down the windows so you’ll need one to escape. Keep one on both the passenger and driver side of the car to increase the odds that everyone gets out safe and sound.

The Perfect Winter Survival Kit for Your Car

You spend a lot of time in your vehicle. In the winter, this can be dangerous. By creating an ideal emergency survival kit, you will be able to handle a lot of the potentially dangerous situations you might face when the weather takes a turn for the worse.

Stay safe out there! While this kit can be helpful, avoiding dangerous road conditions is the best idea. When the weather gets bad, avoid hitting the streets until they have been cleaned. Work from home if you can, do a body weight workout instead of hitting the gym, and even consider skipping that holiday party if the roads aren’t looking safe.

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