I have always found it prudent to carry some basic gear in every vehicle I have owned. This forms the basis for my emergency car kit and can be fine tuned to the time of year. One of the first things to remember is to dress appropriately for the time of year. Earlier this month during a stretch of rain/freezing rain mix I came upon an SUV in the ditch. Both the driver and passenger were unhurt but neither one had a jacket, hat or gloves with them and were standing near their vehicle outside in the rain. It was mid morning on a well travelled road so help was quick in arriving. Imagine the consequences had this same accident occurred late at night when traffic is nearly non existent. Cell phone reception is spotty to non existent in this area as well. Even if you don’t wear them each person in the vehicle should have a coat, hat and gloves. Appropriate footwear is important as well especially if you are going to walk any distance for help during a snowstorm. Personally I wear boots when travelling any distance during the winter months changing into other shoes at my destination if necessary. What follows is a list of items I carry in my trunk during the winter months.
Emergency Car Kit – Winter Warmth and Shelter
- Blankets – Wool ones are best as wool will keep you warm even when wet.
- Hat – I like stocking hats the best as they will help keep you warmer
- Gloves or Mittens – In my opinion mittens keep your hands warmer but it harder to work with them on. I usually wear gloves but carry mittens in my kit.
- Socks – At least 2 extra pair as wet feet can lead to frostbite on a cold day.
- Boots – Either worn or carried in your kit. I like Redwing brand insulated work boots that are heavily treated with your favorite waterproofing compound.
- Tarp – I carry a 10′ by 10′ tarp with me to use as an improvised raincoat or a windbreak.
- Rope – I include 50′ of paracord in all my kits This has a million uses including rigging the tarp as a wind break.
Food & Water
- Food – Beef jerky, mixed nuts, granola bars and crackers are all good choices. The quantity and types of items carried can be tailored to the individuals taste, number of people in the vehicle and distance to be travelled.
- Water – Plan on at least three bottles per person I load this prior to leaving on a trip as it freezes during the winter months. Alternately you can open the bottles and pour some out to allow for expansion as it freezes. Store this separately so if it leaks your other gear doesn’t get wet.
- Snow Shovel
- Ice scraper
- Lock deicer
- Fire starting kit – water proof matches,disposable lighter, petroleum jelly, dryer lint, tea candles, tinder,folding camp saw.
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- Cell phone car charger and/ or battery pack
- First aid kit – There are a variety of good kits available match one to your skill level of first aid.
- Trash bags – Large size bags are best and can be used for a variety of things
- Toilet paper – If you remove the cardboard tube the roll can be flattened to take up less space.
- Wet Wipes
The following items should be kept in your vehicle year round I store mine in a plastic tote.
- 1 quart Motor Oil
- Brake Fluid
- Power Steering Fluid
- Duct Tape
- Paper Towels
- Basic Tool Kit -wrenches, screwdrivers, socket set, etc.
- Fix A Flat
- Lug Wrench
- Jumper Cables
- Reflective triangles for visibility
- Spare Fuses
This list should give you a good basic starting point for a winter emergency kit. You should tailor my list to fit your individual needs and skills.