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Last Updated on November 10, 2017 by Diane Hoffmaster
You really need to have a winter car emergency kit no matter what area of the country you live in. Several years ago, Georgia went through a winter emergency we fondly called Snowmageddon. We got a whopping three inches of snow and the entire area came to a standstill. The governor of Georgia declared a state of emergency and the National Guard was mobilized. Motorists sat stranded in their cars for 16 hours due to total gridlock on the highways and a layer of ice that blanketed the entire city.
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Thankfully, my family was safe at home but what if we had been stuck on the highway? People abandoned their cars on the highway. After hours of going nowhere, they searched for shelter in neighboring stores or with families in the area who had opened their doors for those in need. Millions waited it out in their cars, dealing with freezing temperatures, hungry kids, and full bladders. A winter car emergency kit makes being stranded in freezing temperatures a little bit safer and easier to deal with.
Winter Car Emergency Kit
I'm from New England. I grew up with subzero temperatures and the threat of snow on a regular basis. We always kept certain supplies in our cars at all times. Of course, here in Georgia, I got a bit compliant. However, after Snowmageddon, I learned my lesson! The situation may never happen again but if it does, I want to be prepared. Want to be ready for the next winter car emergency? Pack these things in your car before you find yourself stranded in the snow.
Stock your car with dehydrated foods and MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) if you really want to be prepared long term. A box of crackers, some beef jerky, dried fruit, etc. will be a good start for your winter car emergency kit. Make sure you check your supplies on a regular basis to ensure freshness.
I am not a fan of bottled water but they work well for winter car emergency kits. It's sterile and will remain fresh and safe for a significant amount of time. If you regularly drive in remote areas pack an activated carbon filter water bottle of some sort. You can filter stream water if you need to stay hydrated for any length of time.
You should always have a spare blanket in the car in case you get stranded. You can toss in a spare blanket from the house or invest in a warming blanket that plugs into your car's charging port.
I cannot imagine sitting in my car in the complete darkness and not being able to see what is happening outside my windows. The battery in your car only lasts for so long so don't count on headlights or interior car lights for light in an emergency. Don't forget extra batteries, too. Matches and candles might not be a bad idea either. You might want to consider a manual charging flashlight that charges with the turn of a handle so batteries are never a concern.
First Aid Kit:
This should have the basics of bandages, ibuprofen, rubbing alcohol swabs, etc. Even better for your winter car emergency kit would be a comprehensive medical kit that has everything you might need in case of severe trauma. I hope I never need such a thing because I do not deal well with the site of blood. I think I would need to keep my own personal paramedic in the trunk in case of this sort of emergency.
Battery Powered Radio:
Just finding out what is going on during a crisis can help you figure out how to deal with your own personal situation. An emergency radio will let you know how emergency personnel are handling a situation.
Snow removal supplies:
Shovels, ice scrapers, lock de-icers, etc will come in handy if you live in an area prone to snow and ice. A bag of kitty litter or salt/sand to provide traction to your tires is a good idea as well.
Many of the people who had to ditch their cars on the highways in our Georgia crisis had to do so because of dead batteries. Keep a set of jumper cables in your car for this kind of issue.
Extra cell phone charger:
Try to keep your car charger in your car at all times. Even if your car is not moving you should be able to turn it on enough to use the car's battery to charge your phone and call for help. Consider a solar cell phone charger so you can charge your phone even if your car battery is dead.
If you are stuck in metro Atlanta, people will have no trouble finding you, even if they can't do anything to help you. If you are stuck in a particularly remote area you may need help getting attention. Keep emergency flares, reflectors, fluorescent distress flags and a whistle to attract attention. Make sure you travel with a map of the area (a real paper one!) in case you have to leave your car and head for civilization. Knowing which way the closest town is will be helpful.
Being a responsible driver means more than just dangling a car air freshener on the rearview mirror. A winter car emergency kit will help in some situations but common sense must apply when deciding whether to travel. And make sure your car has snow tires, a full tank of gas and is in good running shape if you are heading somewhere when snow is expected. I may even throw a roll of toilet paper in my winter car emergency kit because those people stuck on the highways for 16 hours can only hold it for so long. Of course, there aren't a lot of trees off the interstate.....
What would YOU put in your winter car emergency kit?
Diane is a professional blogger and nationally certified pharmacy technician at Good Pill Pharmacy. She has two college aged kids, one husband and more pets than she will admit to. She earned her BS in Microbiology at the University of New Hampshire but left her career in science to become a stay at home mom. Years of playing with LEGO and coloring with crayons had her craving a more grown up purpose to her life and she began blogging and freelance writing full time. You can learn more about her HERE.