Winter Emergency Kit Necessities
Written by Lee Wyatt (last updated May 28, 2010)
If you have ever driven through the mountains during the late spring or early autumn, then you know just how quickly the weather can take a turn for the worse. In a similar manner the weather on the plains or lowlands can become nasty and potentially hazardous to the average driver. After all, is there any place in the United States where the locals say, "If you don't like the weather, wait five minutes because it will change?"
As the winter season approaches, the weather becomes more volatile and dangerous. Agencies such as the American Red Cross and the American Automotive Association all recommend (often in the strongest possible terms) that every vehicle carry around a "winter emergency kit" for when those worst-case scenarios actually happen. If you don't already have a kit, you should put one together as quickly as you can to help keep yourself and your family safe. Here is a list of things that you should have in your own personal kit and why you should have them.
- Jumper Cables. If your car dies (i.e., your battery stops working) you are going to need these to be able to start the car again.
- First Aid Kit. This is something that you are going to need in case you or a family member gets hurt and will be useful all year. This kit should include a basic how-to for first aid as well.
- Folding Shovel. Pick up a folding shovel, otherwise known as an e-tool, from any local army/navy surplus store. They require a limited amount of space and serve multiple purposes such as an ax, pick, and of course, shovel.
- Food Supply. You never know when you might be stranded for more than a few hours. Pick up some Meals Ready to Eat (MRE's). While they may not be the best tasting, they do have a virtually unlimited shelf life and include a heater that works off a chemical interaction with water.
- Bag of Sand. A bag of sand is going to help you when you least expect it. This material is perfect for being able to give you extra traction when you get stuck. Simply spread some underneath and around your tire. If you don't like sand, other options include rock salt or kitty litter. The coarser grains found in kitty litter might just provide the extra little bit of traction that you need to get out of slippery situations.
- Scraper. This useful tool helps you remove ice from your windows so that you can see.
- Blanket. Perfect for if you are stranded somewhere and either you don't have fuel or you need to conserve what's left. Wrap the blanket around you to keep warm. Depending on where you live or will be travelling, consider including an extra set of winter clothes as well.
- Flashlight. It gets dark at night, and during the winter it only seems to get darker. Make sure that you have an extra set of fresh batteries on hand so that you don't run out of light.
- Bright Colored Cloth/Emergency Triangle. During a snow storm it can be pretty hard for other motorists to see someone that is stranded on the side of the road. In situations like this, a piece of bright colored cloth or an emergency triangle can help you others know you are there.
- Candle and Matches. One of the easier ways to add heat (and light) to any situation is through the use of candles and matches. They can also help melt snow for water if you need it.
- Metal Coffee Can. Use this great item to melt snow and hold the water.
- Pocket Knife. The multi-tool varieties can be indispensible during an emergency.
- Multi-Tool/Basic Tool Kit. You are going to need either a multi-tool or a basic tool kit in your car you can perform basic maintenance if it is needed.
- Rope/Tow Chain. A tow chain or high-tension rope can be a great tool to get your car out of snow bank.
- Flares. During a snow storm, it's hard to be seen during the day time. At night it gets even more difficult. Brighten your odds of being seen by using some simple road flares.
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