Although it’s the Boy Scouts whose motto is “Be Prepared,” every Mom understands the value of being ready for whatever comes her — and her family’s — way. That might seem easier in the summertime, when everyone is also excited about what’s coming, such as impromptu trips to the beach, the park, or the playground. It’s fun to get the car ready for such adventures by stocking the trunk with sunscreen, extra flip flops, frisbees, towels, and other fun-in-the-sun essentials. In the wintertime, however, it takes a little more work.
That’s why we have compiled this easy-to-follow guide to packing up a winter emergency kit to keep in the car. Three levels of protection make it a snap to gather and carry just what you need, depending on where you live and where you travel. Let’s get started!
First Things First: Essentials That Everyone Should Have
A breakdown can occur anywhere, in any climate, so to be on the safe side, everyone should keep some supplies on hand. Grab a sturdy plastic tote with a lid and fill it with such items as paper towels and all-purpose cleaner, wet wipes, disposable plates, cups, and utensils, some bottled water and non-perishable snacks like beef jerky and granola bars, jumper cables, extra clothing for all members of the family, battery-operated electronics chargers, and a first-aid kit.
The Winter Weather Basics
If you regularly drive in winter weather, even if it’s usually fairly mild, keep these items in your vehicle.
- An ice scraper and snow brush. Keep multiples if you use them frequently, so older kids can help you clean off the car
- De-icing spray if your locks or door handles frequently freeze
- Extra blankets and winter clothing such as mittens, scarves, and hats (Don’t have extra blankets? Throw your sleeping bags in the trunk; problem solved!)
- A pair (or two) of good snow boots. These can be your old boots, as long as they still have tread and are warm
- Some single-use heat packs
- A hand-crank flashlight and a multi-tool, like a Swiss Army knife
- Small towels or rags
If you do get stuck or breakdown, remember to get your car as far off the road as possible. Disabled vehicles are a common cause of accidents, according to a Denver personal injury attorney.
Mid-Level Winter Preparation Items
If you’re no stranger to the occasional winter blizzard, or you live in a rural area where roads can be more difficult to traverse in inclement conditions, consider stocking some stuff that could save your bacon, such as a collapsible snow shovel, a bag of sand or kitty litter (the old-school, non-clumping variety) for traction, a tow strap, and tire chains.
For the Serious Winter Enthusiast
Live in Alaska, or want to pretend you do? Does the monotone drone of a weather radio fill you with excitement? Do your friends call you MacGuyer? Keep these useful essentials with you, and you’ll be able to get out of just about any jam.
- A portable, 5-lb. fire extinguisher in case of a car fire
- Tire sealant in case of minor punctures
- Rain poncho, tarp and/or small tent
- Compass and paper maps of the area
- Hand-crank radio
- A lighter and box of matches in a waterproof container
- Scissors and nail clippers
- Rope, string, and several bungee cords
- High-energy foods such as nuts, raisins, dried fruit, peanut butter, protein bars, and athletes’ energy gels
- Cash, including coins
- A hard-copy address book with family members’ and friends’ telephone numbers.
- A small notebook and pencil, preferably in a waterproof pouch
Last but definitely not least, be sure to have a roll of that old standby, duct tape, tucked in your glove box or trunk.
Of course, if anyone in your family has medical issues, you will also want to have extra medicine and whatever supplies they need, like syringes, included in your first-aid kit. The same goes for spare eyeglasses and contact-lens supplies if you need them.
Most of these supplies can stay in your car year-round. Keep the heavy-duty winter items in a separate tote, so you can easily tuck it in a corner of the garage once spring has sprung. Now, get out there and have some fun — in the snow!