One of the coolest places to visit in the United States during winter is Crater Lake National Park. It’s magnificent. The snow covers the walls of the caldera and the blue lake reflects its colors off the snow. If you want to visit a winter paradise like this one, then you need to be prepared in case tragedy strikes. So without further ado, I give you The Winter Car Emergency Kit Checklist – 10 Important Items to Keep Close.
You never know what might catch you off guard. You don’t want to find yourself caught up winter’s creek without a paddle.
Let’s get started.
1. A Basic Car Emergency Kit
I am talking about reflector triangles to alert motorists, extra windshield wiper fluid to help you see in the eye of the storm, jumper cables or a battery booster to power up your car, first aid kit for scrapes, and road flares to distract a t-rex. You should already have this kind of stuff in your car.
It is useful in case you get into an accident. Maybe your auto insurance is slow to jump the gun and you want to take care of your car yourself. Many problems can be solved with a bit of elbow grease and some of these puppies. More importantly though, items like reflector triangles and road flares can help make your presence known, increasing the speed by when you are rescued.
If there is one thing you need for certain, it is a first aid kit. You never know what cuts and scraps you are bound to run into. A good kit can mean the difference between ending up 6 ft under or just spending a night at the hospital. You are sure to need one.
2. Tire Chains are Essential in the Snow
You cannot drive in the snow in regular old tires. It is too risky. Your tires simply do not have the traction unless you have special snow tires. Double check the tire size on your tires and the chains in the shop.
Tire chains are the kind of item you want to buy in person. You can test them out and see if you got the right one for your car. Check the number on your tires, go to your local auto store, and try them on for size.
Without good tire chains, there is no way you will get out of the snow. You will not have the traction.
3. A Sturdy Ice Scraper and Snow Brush
One of these puppies is a life saver. Ice and snow build up happens. It is part of life in the dead of winter. You cannot get by without an ice scraper.
Imagine waking up in the morning to find your car caked in snow on top and ice below the snow on the windows. There is no way you’re driving with all of that on your car. You need to remove all of it with an ice scraper and brush. Great! Now you can see again.
A good one is essential.
4. It Can Get Dark Really Fast. Bring an LED Flashlight.
The days are a lot shorter in the winter than they are at any other time of year. If your car breaks down at 6 PM, you will be spending a good chunk of the time until you are up and running again in the dark. You need a light. I prefer LED flashlights because I don’t have to replace the bulb at all, only the battery on occasion.
The bulb is incredible. It lasts for over twenty years with good care and maintenance. LEDs are cool. As long as you have plenty of battery to power your LED flashlight up, you will be just fine. They use less energy and emit more light.
5. Food and Water Stops the ‘Hanger’
I don’t know about you, but I want to tear people apart when I haven’t had enough food or water in my belly. That’s right. I am talking about ‘hanger.’ It’s anger mixed with hunger and in an emergency situation it’s a recipe for disaster. You do not want a lack of food to come between you and anyone else in your car. The fangs are sure to come out then.
Food is a surefire way to solve the problem. It satiates them for the time being. They calm down and it slows down their breathing. When I have food in my belly, I am happy. I am sure you feel the same way.
It’s a similar albeit a little different situation with water. If you have plenty of water moving through you, it acts as an appetite suppressant. Your mind all too often thinks with its stomach. If you put water in you, then you trick your mind into believing it’s been fed.
The water also, of course, keeps you hydrated. The snow might be tempting to eat. All it takes is a little melting in your mouth after all, but the problem is it takes more energy to consume snow than actual water. It is not something you want to do. Eating snow is like drinking sea water. It is tempting, but it won’t do you any good. It’s a short term solution for a long term problem.
Play it safe and bring water.
6. A Simple Car Tool Repair Kit is a Life Saver
I remember I was in Tahoe once with my friends Emit and Anthony. We were stuck on the side of the road and we needed help to put on the chains. We could get them on don’t get me wrong, but they needed a little extra boost to tighten everything. A pair of pliers would do the trick. We didn’t have them. Fortunately for us though, there was another guy on the side of the road who had pliers in his truck. You, my guy, are a life saver.
He helped get us through the snow and ice of Tahoe and onto snowboarding.
You cannot count on luck to save you. Only you can save you. If you are by yourself on the side of the road, it is a different matter. You have to rely on yourself then. If you don’t have all the tools above then, you are going to have to wait, maybe a long time.
Put the items above into your car.
7. Rock Salt, Sand, Kitty Litter, or Safety Absorbent
Anyone of these items will help you get out in case you are stuck in the snow. It is okay. It happens to the best of us. I have been there before. They work wonders when you cannot find any rocks to stick under your car nearby. Even if you did, the ice probably won’t let you pry them loose. Rock salt, sand, kitty litter, or safety absorbent ensure you don’t have to worry about any of that.
8. A Foldable Shovel to Get Yourself Unstuck
If you get snowed in or run into a big old pile of snow on the highway, you are going to need a way to get yourself out. A foldable shovel is a reliable friend.
While it is not a snow shovel, it will do a darn good job even outside the snow. You can use it outside of winter in other words. Extending to a length of 23.75 inches and compressing down to a closed length of 9.25 inches, the Gerber E-Tool Folding Spade will get you through thick and thin whether you are stuck in the gravel, in a snow pile, or need to go number two.
The glass filled nylon handle and aluminum shaft enable the user to get high performance at a low weight. You wouldn’t want to get tired after the first dig would you now?
The steel construction of the spade itself means it will last you for many years to come.
9. You Need a Half to a Full Tank of Gas
It goes without saying, but I’ll tell you anyway. You do not want to get caught outside in the dead of winter without gas. Your car is your life vessel in the low temperatures. It provides you shelter and some level of warmth despite the cold weather outside.
If a snow storm or blizzard surprises you, then you are going to need a way to keep warm. There is no way around it. A safe bet is always your car. With plenty of gas in the tank, your car can stay on to keep you warm and get you out to the next gas station.
Without any gas, you are really stuck. You’re either going to have to call AAA or hope someone with a tank of gas for you rolls up. Play it safe and fuel your car up beforehand.
10. Some Warm Blankets and Thick Clothes to Keep Toasty
When it is summer, I like having a blanket in my car. It makes for a nice picnic blanket when I go on a date with my girlfriend. We can lay back and stare up at the sky and talk about the shapes of clouds. It is wonderful.
In the winter time though, a blanket or a few are a life saver. They keep me nice and warm despite the chilly weather outside. You can wrap up and keep heat in as much as you can when the car engine is off.
When it comes to thick clothes, I advise you to follow ‘the triple layering system.’ Keep on a waterproof outer layer, a thermal inner layer to keep warm, and a plain old t-shirt underneath. All of these layers can keep you warm. Cover yourself from head to toe and ensure no skin is visible except for your face.
When your toes and fingers are warm, everything else falls into place.
Bonus 11. An Understanding of How to Drive in the Snow
You need to know how to drive in the snow. Period. There is no way around it.
As a Californian, I have been spoiled by warm weather. I can drive fast and not have to worry about ice throwing me off and into the tree ahead. When it comes to ice, I learned the hard way. When I was in Tahoe one time, I knew it was important to drive slow in the snow, but not how slow. While heading down a hill, I drove slow or so I thought. My friends and I made a full 360 turn. It was wild. I never experienced anything like it before.
You don’t want to end up like me.
When in the snow, take it slow and take it easy. Winter reminds us to slow down and appreciate life’s roses.
You Should Be All Set to Go Now
I hope you enjoyed this article as much as I did writing it.
Safety matters. There is no way around it. If you don’t have safety, you don’t have anything. Think about and check out some items above and you will be well on your way to skiing and shredding up the slopes. Grab your warm hot cocoa and wrap up. It’s going to be a cold night.
If you have any thoughts, questions, or think I missed anything, do not hesitate to comment below and please share the article. Thank you so much and I hope you make it a great day!