Even though winters in the Southwest are considered mild compared to the rest of the United States, temperatures can drop to freezing levels. If you reside in the Southwest or if you’re planning a road trip to a snowy destination, it is a great idea to have an emergency car kit for the winter season in your vehicle, so you are prepared; but what items should be on an emergency car kit list?
In addition to cold-weather essentials such as ice scrapers and warm, protective clothing, an emergency supply should include basic equipment needed to handle a breakdown on the road. Even if you don't have to deal with winter driving in your area often, there are many items that can be essential during a common roadside emergency like an overheating engine, dead battery, flat tire, or auto accident. Here is a detailed list that covers what you should pack in your emergency kit, and gives you a few tips for winter road travel.
What Are Important Auto Emergency Kit Essentials?
Car problems notoriously happen when you least expect them. It's a good idea to make sure you're ready to handle a flattened tire or dying battery, especially in the winter. Repair-related equipment that you should always carry in case of a breakdown include the following:
- Jumper cables
- Road flares
- Flashlights (and extra batteries)
- Tire-changing tools (and a spare tire)
- Compact fire extinguisher
- Multipurpose tool
- Duct tape
- Heavy gloves
Additionally, make sure to keep spare engine oil on hand, as well as antifreeze if you will be driving in wintry weather. A high-visibility safety vest is also recommended; bright and reflective clothing is essential for allowing drivers to see you while you perform repairs outside your car. Finally, in case of a collision, make sure to stow a note pad and pen to take down information.
What Should Go into an Emergency-First Aid Kit?
First aid items should be at the top of any winter emergency car kit list. You should be able to find pre-assembled kits online or at your local drug store. These are some basic items:
- First aid instruction booklet
- Adhesive bandages in various sizes
- Antiseptic wipes and hand sanitizer, antibiotic ointment, aspirin (or equivalent), antihistamine, and saline solution
- Tweezers, medical scissors, latex gloves, and an oral thermometer
- Sterile gauze pads, roller bandages, instant cold compress, and cotton balls
You should also make sure to add essential personal items such as emergency contact numbers, medications or other specifics suggested by your healthcare provider. Make sure to check the kit regularly to replace missing items or expired pharmaceuticals.
What Do You Pack in Your Emergency Kit for Winter Driving?
Driving during wintry conditions increases the likelihood of a collision and the likelihood of becoming stranded. Being left without assistance during cold, snowy weather can be dangerous for a variety of reasons. In addition to a fully charged mobile phone, the following items are essential when driving into icy, snowy or frigid conditions:
- Bottled drinking water and non-perishable food, such as nutrition bars or prepackaged fruits
- Warm blankets, winter coats, gloves, caps, scarves, and extra socks
- Safety flares, compact shovel, ice scraper, and a bag of sand (or cat litter) to provide traction
Remember to pack for other occupants onboard, too. For instance, extra diapers, or treats, and a water bowl for your dog.
How Do You Prepare for Winter-Weather Travel?
Once you have your winter emergency car kit onboard, make sure that you make some basic safety preparations for wintry driving. To keep your car running smoothly, try to keep your fuel tank half to three-quarters full, and make sure that the antifreeze in your radiator is suitable for freezing temperatures. Change out your motor oil, install new windshield wiper blades and check wiper solvent levels. You should also use snow tires, studded tires or chains, which are required on icy and snowy roads.
If you are going on a longer car trip, plan your travel route in advance, and carry a map along in addition to your phone. It's a good idea to let someone know your itinerary, and give them your estimated departure and arrival times.
Finally, make sure that your vehicle is in good condition overall. Check that the brake lights, turn signals, headlights and taillights are working, and pay close attention to ignition, battery, exhaust systems, defroster, thermostat and brakes. If you want the advice of a professional about your auto's winter-weather preparedness, schedule a routine maintenance appointment at a Sun Auto Service center near you.