Is your winter emergency kit ready? 15 things you should keep in your car

No one plans to slip off the road, get stuck in an iceberg, or find themselves waiting for a tow truck with temperatures hovering above zero. But if it happens to you, you’ll be glad you took a few extra minutes to get ready.

It’s worth brushing up on what you should pack in your car as a winter emergency kit.

The advice below has been shared by local authorities and the National Weather Service.

So pack your emergency kit and stow it in your car, and try to stay as warm as possible. If you need to restock some of these items, we’ve tried to find you links to the lowest prices online.

Jumper cables are an essential part of any vehicle’s winter emergency kit. Image provided by Amazon.

#1 jumper cables

Jumper cables are a must. Keep it stashed in your trunk. Even if you don’t need them, chances are someone else in dire straits will hope you do. Don’t have a pair or want to update to an easy-to-use setup? Find the best deals here:

#2 Flashlight with fresh batteries

Make sure you have a working flashlight. And keep it in the glove box, center console, or door compartment so you don’t have to dig around in the trunk when you need it. Need more flashlights? Find the best deals online at Amazon, Walmart, or Home Depot.

#3 Phone and charger

You’ll want to make sure your phone is fully charged when you’re out on the road in tricky conditions. In bad weather, let others know with a text or call when you leave for your destination, and again when you arrive. As a backup, a cell phone charger is also a good idea in case the power to your car goes out and you can’t charge your phone from your car.

Westbound I-196 closed in the Grand Rapids backlog

Westbound I-196 closed after too many vehicles piled up on Butterworth St. SW in Grand Rapids on Tuesday, March 5, 2019. Police divert traffic onto Lake Michigan Drive, or M-45. (Corey Morse |

Corey Morse |

#4 First aid

You always wish you never needed it, but it’s smart to have an emergency first aid kit in your car. Keep it stocked with bandages, gauze, pain killers, antiseptic, scissors, and other supplies you might need. Do you need a ready set? You can find it here.

#5 Fill up your gas tank

Bad weather frequently slowed traffic, forcing lines of parked cars to wait while other vehicles were pulled from ditches or loaded onto tow trucks. Make sure you keep your fuel tank full so you won’t be the one who needs roadside assistance.

#6 Roadside emergency flares

You might think this one is overkill, but the flares and reflective triangle are nice to keep on hand. They can help you see your car better at night if it is on the side of the road. Need some handy emergency flashlights? Check out glow stocks at Amazon and Walmart for some good deals.


Gloves and mittens hang on display.Kate Bomer | MLive

#7 An extra hat, gloves, warm clothes

Sure, you’re wearing a winter jacket. But if you have to wait in a cold car for any length of time, you’ll need a little extra warmth. Even if you’re not wearing one, make sure you have an extra hat, gloves, scarf, and sweatshirt for everyone in your car. If you have to walk for help, you’ll be glad they’re there.

#8 Battery operated radio

Battery operated or handheld radio are the best options.

#9 Kitty litter or sandbox

When Mother Nature brings heavy snow and ice, it’s wise to have some power on hand. Keep a tube of road sand or even a container of cat litter in the trunk. Sprinkled around your wheels, it can give you the instant traction that’s the difference between getting back on your way, or calling a tow truck.

Weighted blanket

YnM Cooling Weighting Blanket, 100% Natural Bamboo Viscose, 15 lbs 48″ x 72″, Deluxe Weighted Blanket 2.0, Sea Grass

#10 Blankets or a sleeping bag

No, we don’t recommend you ever sleep in your car in the winter. But having an extra blanket — or even a rolled up sleeping bag — at the ready can add extra warmth if you have to wait for help.

#11 Snacks

Keep small, easy-to-store snacks on hand. A Ziploc bag filled with granola bars, nuts, dried fruit, and cheese crackers will do the trick. Or you can be like me and put on some Snickers and some banana chips.

#12 Water

Keep a container of fresh water in the car, whether that’s a couple of plastic water bottles you bring on every trip – don’t just leave them in the trunk, they’ll freeze solid – or a travel beverage container you carry with you regularly.

ice scraper

ice scraper

#13 The ice scraper

We’re surprised how many people we know have an ice scraper in their garage, but don’t keep one in their back seat. No, don’t think you can just use the side of your gloved hand, or scrape the ice off your windshield with a credit card. Yes, we saw you do that.

#14 Hoe

We know buckets are for driveways. But there are times when you might need a small shovel or broom to get yourself out of the jam. And when you need it, you’ll be glad you were smart enough to put it in the trunk.

#15 Know the expectations

You wouldn’t jump in your car without knowing where you were going. So don’t go on the road until you’ve checked the forecast. Know what you are driving into, especially if there is a storm in the forecast. Know when the next big snowfall will occur and any other conditions that might make travel risky.

Winter emergency kit essentials

Make sure you have what you need in your vehicle if you’re going to be on the road in the Michigan winter.

#winter #emergency #kit #ready #car

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