It’s that time of year: winter. We start to see all the storms and the snow and pictures of thousands of people stranded in their cars on the highway overnight. If that doesn’t make you want to prepare better than I don’t know what will because, my friends: you need to put together an emergency winter car kit today.
I’ve carried an “emergency kit” in my car for a few years now. Some of it is a store-bought kit (first aid), but most of it is simply things that I’ve put inside a bag in the back of my car. It’s made up of things that if I get stranded in my car (especially with my kid), we would probably be OK for a while.
Snow Emergency Action Plan for the Car
Emergency Kit Items You Need for the Winter
Grab a backpack or a small stacking crate that will stay in your car. You need something that will be easy to carry because you may be stuck somewhere (like at work) and will need to easily transport your emergency items into a building.
Emergency Car Kit Checklist
Boots and socks
Gloves and hats
Change of clothes (especially a heavy hooded sweatshirt)
Bottled waters and power drinks
Snacks like trail mix, energy and granola bars, crackers, and ready-to-eat prepackaged meals (think lunchbox items like canned tuna with crackers)
Books, cards or entertainment items (especially for kids)
Waterproof matches and a can to melt snow for water, if needed (and empty, clean soup can without the label works well)
What To Do If You’re Snowed In and Stuck in Your Car
If you have the misfortune of being stuck in your car during a snowstorm:
Immediately make a call to emergency personnel and friends/family members to let them know your location.
Tie the fluorescent distress flag from your emergency distress kit high on your car antennae.
Make sure your emergency car kit/bag is in the seat next to you. Your trunk could freeze shut, making your survival items inaccessible.
Make sure snow is cleared away from your exhaust. Snow can block your exhaust pipe and cause carbon monoxide poisoning. If you can’t get out to check the tailpipe, crack the window while you run the car for 10 minutes every hour.
Use the portable emergency radio to listen for weather updates to prevent drain on your car battery.
Stay warm by layering your clothing, using the hand/foot warmers and the blankets. Be sure to keep a hat and gloves on.
Stay hydrated and ration your food.
At night, leave a light on (like the flashlight) because emergency crews will be able to see the glow of a light in the dark.
If possible, check in with your friends/family regularly on your cell phone.
DO NOT LEAVE YOUR CAR and attempt to walk to safety.