10 Essentials You Should Have in Your Winter Driving Emergency Kit

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With snow draped mountains and valleys winter is a beautiful wonderland. Winter can also be a time of icy roads, slushy driving conditions, and blackouts in isolated areas. It’s important to keep your vehicle winter ready before the cold season hits, including putting together a winter driving emergency kit.

Being prepared in case of an emergency will increase your chances of survival in the cold and help you get home safely. Not only should there be concern for your safety in the winter but also for your family’s safety as well.

Here is a list of 10 essentials every vehicle should have in a winter driving emergency kit. Everything will prepare you for winter conditions and issues that arise. All or most of these winter driving emergency kit items can be stored in the trunk or glove box.

10 Essentials You Should Have in Your Winter Driving Emergency Kit


Every vehicle should be equipped with 2 or 3 warm blankets or sleeping bags. These protect bodies from the winter cold. Blankets are also great for laying on the ground if you need to get under the car or to cover up windows to keep the chilly wind from getting in the cracks.


Flares can be used to signal to others that you are in need of assistance. Roadside flares are commonly used to let others know that you need help and are recognized as such. You can light the flares and set them around the vehicle so that others slow down to help when they see them lit. Flares can be purchased at a AAA center or any car parts store.


A flashlight can be used to see anywhere and anytime it is dark. For instance, if your vehicle breaks down at night, you’ll need a flashlight to see outside and into the engine of the car, or to fix a flat tire if that be the case. A flashlight is also great for signaling passers to pull over and help.

Full Gas Container

When traveling anywhere it’s a good idea to have a gas container full of gas in your trunk. Imagine if you break down simply because you run out of gas and have nothing to help get you to a gas station. With a gas container, full of gas, you’ll be able to get your vehicle to the nearest gas station to fill up in a jiffy.

Canned Goods & A Can Opener

Keeping non-perishable foods on hand is a great way to be emergency prepared during the winter. One can never know what will happen if your vehicle breaks down in the cold and you are stranded. It’s a good idea to make sure you have enough food to last you until help arrives. Store a box of canned goods and a can opener in the trunk to be prepared for an emergency.

Jugs of Water

If you get stranded during the winter and are left in the cold, it’s a good idea to be sure you have plenty of water to survive. We can live on water for a long time. In fact, our bodies can live without food, but they cannot live without water. Keeping a few gallons of water in the vehicle in the winter will ensure that you prepared for a vehicle emergency if need be.

Spare Tire

It may sound funny to list this as a necessity, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t have a spare tire in their vehicle. Either it’s been used and was never replaced by the owner or the vehicle is used and the new owner never purchased a spare tire.

In any case, it’s important to have a spare tire on hand at all times. Just think if all you need is a spare tire to get you on your way again and out of the cold, wouldn’t you be grateful to have one?

Car Jack

In order to replace a flat tire, you’ll need a car jack. A car jack will help to lift up the vehicle so that you can take off the flat tire and replace it with the spare tire tucked away in the car. What’s really nice is because you made sure to pack your blankets in the car, you’ll have something to lay down so that you can comfortably change the tire using the jack and the blanket.

First Aid Kit

Every car should always have a first aid kit packed either in the glove box or middle console. Emergencies happen, even small cuts and scraps. Be prepared with a first aid kit full of bandaids, antiseptic, antibiotic ointment, gauze, scissors, tape, and bandages. I even keep a small first aid kit in my purse.


You should always keep a small tool box in the car in case of winter emergencies. Tools come in handy quite nicely for fixing even the littlest of car trouble. Plus, you may find that you need a certain type of tool to use in your survival, such as a monkey wrench to fix a busted window roller arm.

You can never be too prepared during the cold winter months. Some extras you may want to consider are:

  • coats
  • snow pants
  • gloves
  • seat warmers
  • Zippo lighter (warm hands, locks,…etc.)
  • towels
  • plastic bags (put in car window to signal break down)
  • boxed snacks
  • and anything else you can think of that you want to keep in your vehicle!

Just think about what you would do if you were stranded in the dead of winter during a snow storm or alone in the country. What would you want to have with you in the car? What would make surviving a little easier if you prepared ahead of time?

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Barb Webb is a sustainable living expert nesting in Appalachian Kentucky. When she’s not chasing chickens around the farm or engaging in mock Jedi battles, she’s following the road less traveled, writing about country living and artisan culture. Travel specialties are: Agritourism and Second Season of Life (over 50) Adventures.
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