My niece is now living in Illinois and they've had very cold temperatures and snow already this winter. Her mother-in-law told her about keeping an emergency car kit. Then a friend of mine reminded me with her blog post about those emergency kits.
But, back to the Winter Emergency Kit, some of these should always be in your car and some are specific for winter:
* Drinkable water. Make sure you have at least the equivalent of a gallon. If you are stranded for a long time, you will need it. And if you are stranded with your children, spouse, friend or pet in the car, you need more than you think.
* Food. Something with high protein, carbohydrates and sugar. Not just a pack of cookies but something with nutritional value. Add a can opener and you can have some canned fruits and meats, crackers, nutritional bars, nuts, peanut butter, etc. Baby formula and diapers if you have a baby.
* Strong flashlight with an extra set of batteries. If you needed to do some work on your car or flag someone down you would need a flashlight.
* A multi-purpose knife. You can get something that has the hammer on the end in order to smash a window open to get out if the car door is jammed. The knife can help you slit the seat belt in case the button doesn't work.
* A bag of cat litter to help you gain traction if you get stuck in ice.
* Collapsible shovel for digging out of the snow.
* Ice scraper, two quarts of oil and gallon of anti-freeze in case you spring a leak somewhere. Jumper cables. It wouldn't hurt to have some duct tape and a few simple tools like a pair of pliers, flat head and phillips head screwdriver, vise grips, adjustable wrench. And have a fire extinguisher on board.
* An extra pair of warm gloves, warm jacket, socks, warm boots and a change of clothes. If you have to get out to try and dig the car out, your clothes and shoes will get wet and hypothermia can set in.
* Extra blanket(s)
* A battery radio with extra batteries so you aren't wasting your car battery to listen to the radio.
* A couple of plastic garbage bags
* Waterproof matches and some trick birthday candles. They won't blow out and can be used to start a fire.
* Paper and pencil because if you have to start walking, you will want to leave a note in the car.
* A compass in the car and local area maps
* A plastic bag holding toilet paper and wipes
* Lip balm, hand lotion, toothbrush and toothpaste
* A medical kit including a few of your daily medications. It should also have Aspirin, Bandaids, medical tape and sterile gauze, antibiotic ointment, alcohol wipes, hydrocortisone cream, Benadryl, a couple of pairs of latex gloves.
* A book or something to pass the time, some small toys for your children.
Tuck as much of this as you can in a backpack in case you had to start walking. You can store things in a plastic tote or old suitcase. If the weather is particularly bad, then you may want to keep this emergency kit in the main car and NOT in the trunk. That way you could access it without having to get out. If you don't have enough room in your trunk, look for other places where you can store some of these items. For instance you might store some things under the seats, on top of the spare tire, in pockets on the doors or behind the front seats, glove box, etc.
A few safety tips to remember:
* Once or twice a year, you need to check and make sure everything is still there, check expiration dates and make sure everything is still usable. Replace anything that has gone missing or is past the expiry date.
* Keep your car full of gas
* Make sure your cell phones are fully charged whenever you are about to drive even if it's just to the grocery store.