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27 Winter Survival Items You Should Have In Your Car


27 Winter Survival Items You Should Have In Your CarIf you are like most preppers, then every year you spend time preparing your home for winter. You check windows and doors for leaks, insulating wherever possible. You preserve your summer and fall harvest for your pantry. You stock up on essential supplies to keep your family and animals fed and your home running smoothly in the event of an emergency.

But do you take the same care to protect yourself when heading out in your car? Winter can be treacherous, and every year we read horror stories of people trapped in their vehicles due to extreme weather. What would you do if you were trapped in your car during a winter storm? Would you be safe until you were able to get help?

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First, let’s look at some basic preparation tips for winter driving.

  • Check road conditions and traffic reports before you head out.
  • Monitor your tire pressure during cold weather. Make sure chains fit.
  • Be sure your car’s battery, radiator, lights, belts, hoses, brakes, defroster, heater, wipers and wiper blades are all in good working order.
  • Check all fluid levels.
  • Start your trip with a full tank of gas and aim to keep your fuel tank at least half full during the winter months.

Now, here is our list of winter survival items to carry in your car.

1. Emergency Road Flares

One of the biggest concerns, when your car breaks down, is being visible to other cars passing on the road. Winter storms can greatly reduce other drivers’ ability to see you. If your vehicle is in a dangerous location out of sight, you will want rescuers to see you. Keeping flares and reflectors in your trunk will help in both scenarios.

2. Gloves and Hand Warmers

It is difficult – if not dangerous – to use the first two items without warm winter gloves on your hands. Hand warmers are also a good idea to help prevent frostbite.

Survival Frog Hand Warmer

This little device keeps your hands toasty warm.

3. Ice Scraper and Brush

Snow and ice can build up quickly on your vehicle, dangerously affecting your visibility. In addition, snow and ice can fly off your roof or hood and hit another vehicle. Before you set out on a trip, clear your entire car of ice and snow.

4. Sand, Rock Salt, or Kitty Litter

Keeping a bag of one of these coarse materials can come in handy when your tires are stuck in ice or snow. You can spread the material near your tires to gain traction.

5. Traction Mat

Another option for gaining traction in slippery road conditions is a traction mat. Place the mat under or near your tires to prevent spinning.

6. Shovel

A small or collapsible shovel is a useful item to have in your car at any time of year, but it can be indispensable in the winter. Use it to help you get out of a snowdrift or to clear a path in the snow. Be sure to clear snow from your tire wells also.

Konnex Shovel

This shovel has a built-in saw, whistle, fire starter, screwdriver, and compass!

7. Blankets

Temperatures inside your car can drop quickly if you cannot run your heater. Place several warm blankets in your car. If you are short on room, pack low-weight, low-bulk space blankets.

8. First Aid Kit

It’s a good idea to keep a fully-stocked first aid kit in your car at all times. However, it can be critically important to have these items in the winter. Response times from emergency vehicles can be slow in hazardous weather, and you may need to administer first aid until help arrives.

9. Hygiene Items

It’s easy to take for granted the basic necessities of life until we are in an emergency. If you are heading out for winter travel, pack toilet paper, diapers, wet wipes, feminine supplies, hand sanitizer, mouthwash, tissue packs, and other personal hygiene items.

10. Emergency Tire Sealant

Changing a flat tire during sub-zero temperatures or in heavy snowfall can be a dangerous if not impossible situation. Using tire sealant may allow you to get your vehicle to the next town or to a safer place to change your tire. Keep some in your trunk. Also, be sure you have a spare tire in your trunk and that it is in good condition.

11. Windshield Washer Fluid

It’s amazing how much snow and ice other vehicles can toss your way when you are driving in the winter. You can clear it away frequently as well as de-ice your windshield while you are driving when you have plenty of anti-freeze windshield washer fluid. Keep an extra bottle in your trunk during wintery weather.

12. Flashlight

Cell phone flashlights come in handy, but you’ll want to conserve your phone charge as much as possible. Keep a sturdy, high-beam flashlight in your car to help you see in the dark and to signal for help.

13. Extra batteries

Keep extra batteries on hand for your flashlight and for any other devices (such as a battery-powered radio).

USB Batteries

Recharge these batteries with a USB port.

14. Hand Crank Radio

If you are stuck in your car, you need to ration the use of your car’s battery. A hand-crank or wind-up radio will allow you to monitor weather and road conditions and listen to news and music without using your car’s power.

15. Rope or Chain

You can use a tow chain to help get your vehicle – or someone else’s – out of a snow drift. A long and sturdy rope (or paracord) can be an essential item in any winter emergency.

16. Power Bank Jump Starter

In severe temperatures, car batteries can need a jump to get started. You can get help quicker if your car won’t start, and you can help others if you carry your own set of jumper cables. Or better yet, get a pocket jumper. With this, you won’t need another vehicle to jump start your car.

Power Bank Jump Starter

Use this to jump start your car in an emergency.

17. Tool Kit

You can perform simple car maintenance yourself if you keep a small tool kit in your trunk. Be sure to have the tools you need to loosen or tighten bolts, for example. A roll of duct tape can come in handy as well.

18. Winter Clothes

All too often, we set out on a winter drive trip without proper outerwear because we are relying on our car’s heater. Extra winter gear such as coats, snow pants, gloves, boots, hats, and scarves come in handy during a winter car emergency.

19. Sunglasses

We often think of sunglasses as a summer necessity, but the glare from the sun on snow can be blinding. Have some sunglasses in your car to reduce eye strain when driving for long periods in the winter.

20. Water and Non-Perishable Snacks

Pack high-protein dried fruit and nuts in your car for a winter trip. Granola bars and trail mix are good options. Also, pack plenty of fresh water in reusable plastic bottles.

21. Matches

You may need to start a fire to keep warm if you are stranded for a long time. Matches will come in handy in wet winter conditions. You also can melt snow for water if you run out of the water you have packed.

22. Emergency Multitool

You never know what can happen when a car spins out of control on a patch of ice. You’ll be ready to handle many emergencies – such as breaking a car window or cutting a seatbelt – with a sturdy multi-tool in your pocket or glove compartment.

23. Cell Phone Charger

Start out your trip with a fully-charged phone and keep a charger in your car at all times. In the event of a long-term emergency, you’ll want a portable battery-operated phone charger in your car as well.

PowerCard Phone Charger

This phone charger actually fits in your wallet.

24. Writing/Drawing Supplies and Games

Passing the time until the weather breaks or help arrives can be tedious and stressful for everyone. Pack a bag of entertainment supplies including pens, crayons, and paper. Also, include playing cards and perhaps a game of magnetic checkers or chess.

25. Books

We often rely on electronics to keep us busy, but packing a few novels or children’s books can help pass the time in a stressful situation as you are waiting to get back on your way.

26. Paper Maps

GPS and Google maps are great when you have access to Wi-Fi and data, but print maps are what you need when you are offline or off road due to a winter emergency. Print out your itinerary before you depart and keep a folding map of the entire area where you are traveling in your vehicle.

27. Cash, Credit Cards, and Insurance Information

Winter travel emergencies can mean unexpected expenses. Don’t get caught short-handed when it comes to paying for them.

Bonus: Common Sense

Probably the most important thing you can do is use your common sense when driving in winter weather. Pay close attention to changing weather conditions and freezing temperatures. Don’t risk a trip when a serious storm is heading your way. It may be best to postpone your trip until the driving conditions are safer.

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  1. Chuck on November 1, 2019 at 12:57 pm

    Storing water in your vehicle during the winter is problematic for obvious reasons. Not everyone has a garage to keep their vehicle in. Rather than seeing your gallon jugs burst as water expands when it freezes, a container or pan would be a smart addition to your vehicle supply stash. You’ll have the option to melt ice or snow for water (including the ice in your frozen gallon jugs). A small backpacking pot would fill the role without taking up a lot of room, as you can store other items within it. Look for a 12 volt Coffee Pot, as it can be used to melt snow or ice using your vehicles power system (only operate it when the engine is running otherwise you may deplete yout battery). The advantage with such is it also offers a heat source without a fire in your vehicle as well as warming water to drink.
    Have kids? Add some drink mixes to your supplies. Coffee, Tea, Apple Cider and Hot Chocolate are all available in single serving packet form. Having such is not only comforting, but in the case of Apple Cider and Hot Chocolate there’s sugar for helping maintain your physal abilities. Coffee and Tea are stimulants as well (both can be packeted with sugar and/or creamer as well.
    Keep a couple of MRE’s for each occupant in your vehicle. Get the type that includes the individual heaters (only use in your vehicle if you can vent it. The heaters release a gas that is explosive in the presence of fire). There are plenty of other edibles in each kit that require no heating to consume.

  2. Courtney on April 22, 2019 at 8:07 pm

    Ok, tire chains WERE mentioned!!!

  3. GreenTeaBreak.com on October 31, 2018 at 8:09 am

    Great post. This was the first time I’ve seen traction mats. I use to use floor mats. I’d imagine traction mats would work much better.

    A small travel sized fire extinguisher might be a good item to keep in the car as well. A small engine gas leak without an extinguisher cause a fire and total a vehicle.

  4. Mike on October 30, 2018 at 4:17 pm

    Also a few of those emergency blankets and gorilla tape. You can cover your windows/windshield with them to reflect your body heat back toward you.

  5. -Sideliner 1950 on October 29, 2018 at 2:12 pm

    This is such an important, timely article, with a very good list of essential vehicle items for most everyone living in winter-weather-prone areas.

    Please consider making it “31 Winter Survival Items…” by adding the following:

    -“Item 28”: tire-mounted traction devices (a.k.a. “snow chains” or “tire chains”);

    -“Item 29”: an appropriate container for fuel (that you carry empty until needed);

    -“Item 30”: a fuel-siphon device; and

    -“Item 31”: a fueling funnel with a spout long enough to penetrate sufficiently deep into the fuel filler neck of your vehicle’s fuel tank.


    -Tire chains (“snow chains”) needn’t be the heavy kind — some tire-mounted traction devices are relatively lightweight. That said, true tire-chains (the heavy kind) are rugged and long-lasting, and they do perform very well when properly installed.

    -Choose a 2-gallon fuel container rather than a 1-gallon container because physically it isn’t much bigger, yet it holds twice as much. (OK, call me “Captain Obvious”.)

    -An appropriate fuel-siphoning device will enable you to transfer fuel from another vehicle’s tank into your gas can with relative ease.

    -A long-spout fueling funnel should fit sufficiently deep enough into most modern vehicles’ fuel tank filler necks. Also, your properly inserted long-spout funnel can pretty much hold itself in place while you refuel your vehicle from your gas can.

    -As with most everything, “Knowledge is Power”. And as with all survival equipment, knowledge and experience with it is invaluable. Practice and understand these operations BEFORE the SHTF:

    -If you’ve never installed tire-chains before, practice doing it from start to finish in fair-weather conditions so you’ll at least have an idea of the procedure when it becomes necessary (you may have to do it on a dark night in a sloppy snowstorm).

    -If you’ve never siphoned fuel from a vehicle’s fuel tank into a gas can before, practice doing it from start to finish in benign conditions so you’ll have an idea of what goes where and why, and what to do to effect the desired fuel transfer. Don’t be discouraged if at first you have difficulty…you’ll get it.

    -If you’ve never fueled your vehicle using a gas can, practice doing it from start to finish in benign conditions so when you must do it for real, you’ll already know and understand how to keep the precious fuel from spilling out onto the ground (or yourself) and how to position the fuel filler spout in your fuel tank filler neck for best results.

    Remember this: just having all the wonderful emergency equipment on the list is a huge step towards preparedness for winter driving; but without the knowledge how to properly employ it all, you may have a false sense of security that could add to your peril. With sufficient understanding and practice under your belt, should the SHTF on some dark and snowy night requiring you to fuel up or chain up for real, you’ll be way ahead.

    “Knowledge is Power”.

    • Alan on October 29, 2018 at 2:29 pm

      Really good advice, thanks for sharing!

  6. Soupy on October 29, 2018 at 11:42 am

    Too many ads popping up everywhere to read emails everyday; too distracting.

    • Sideliner 1950 on October 29, 2018 at 2:11 pm

      Have you heard of AdBlock Plus? Look it up…maybe it or some other ad blocking app will help you not only here but wherever you go on line.

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