When you jump into your car, you probably take a quick inventory. License? Got it. Cell phone? Check! Favorite playlist? Yep, all set! Hold up, friend! When the weather is snowy, icy, and downright unpredictable, it’s crucial to keep a few essential emergency supplies in your car. If the unexpected occurs, you’ll be thankful you planned ahead. Throw these ten items in your trunk at the first sign of cold or snow, and you’ll be better prepared for almost anything the winter road sends your way!
1. Portable Phone Charger/Battery
It's like a scene straight out of a horror movie: you’re stuck in a ditch on a deserted road...and your cell phone battery is at 1%. Keep a car charger in your vehicle, but also a portable battery or power bank. If you're unable to start your car, a phone charger that plugs into your car's USB port or cigarette lighter won't do any good. A portable battery, on the other hand, will charge your phone on-the-go, wherever you go, regardless of whether or not your car starts.
2. Ice Scraper
When you park outside in the cold, you risk coming back to a car that's frosted over with a frustrating layer of snow or ice. Keep an ice scraper with a long handle in your car so you can easily clear off your windows, mirrors, and lights before driving.
If you get stuck in a snow pile or mud puddle, a shovel can save the day. You can dig out from around a tire that's spinning, or add fresh snow or dirt to the mix to improve your the tire's grip. You probably don’t want to lug a full-sized shovel around, so look for a compact, foldable one that takes up minimal space in your trunk. Some grocery stores and hardware stores also stock miniature snow shovels during the winter months for just this reason!
4. Bag of Sand or Kitty Litter
Keeping a few bags of sand or kitty litter in your car has a couple of benefits. First, the added weight in the trunk can help rear-wheel vehicles gain traction on slippery roads. Second, the sand or kitty litter can actually be poured around your tires if they get stuck in snow, slush, or ice. It will provide that extra grit your tires need to gain traction and get you moving.
Pro-Tip: Did you know? You can also use your car's floor mats to get your car out of slippery situations! Watch this video to see the trick in action.
5. Hazard Triangles or LED Flashers
If your car slides off the road or you get into a fender bender, hazard triangles or LED flashers can give approaching cars a "heads up," but also mark your location. In less than clear conditions, these visible warning signs give passing cars more time to reduce their speed and avoid hitting your vehicle, while helping emergency personnel spot your location more easily.
A flashlight, like hazard triangles, can be useful for signaling to passing vehicles, digging around in the trunk after dark, or dealing with problems under the hood. It will also be invaluable if you need to walk to get assistance at night.
7. Blankets & Extra Cold-Weather Clothes
If you drive from garage-to-garage during the winter, you might not dress for the elements. In an emergency, getting caught without warm clothes could make it more difficult to deal with the situation at hand. Keep a few blankets in your trunk, as well as any old sweatshirts, warm socks, boots, and thick pants that you don’t mind keeping in your car for the season. If you're tight on space, opt for a pocket-sized heat reflective blanket. Stick some mittens and a warm hat in your glove box and you’re all set for the unexpected!
8. Snacks & Water
It may be a rare occurrence nowadays, but people can get stuck in their car for days during blizzards. Keep a stash of non-perishable snacks and bottles of water in the car, just in case. Even if you only have to sit tight for a couple of hours while waiting for a tow truck, you'll be more comfortable with a bite to eat!
9. First Aid Kit
You never know what you’ll need in an emergency. Purchase a first aid kit or make your own with some bandages, adhesive tape, antibiotic ointment, scissors, gauze, and any medications you think you might need.
10. Jumper Cables
You can't jump start your car battery without jumper cables. It's as simple as that. Low temperatures put additional strain on your battery and can turn a weak battery into a dead battery overnight. Keep a pair of jumper cables in your trunk, especially if your battery is more than three years old. If you turn your keys and nothing happens, you can get a jump from a friend, relative, or passing driver.
Pro-Tip: Find out how much life your battery has left with a free battery test at your nearest Firestone Complete Auto Care. Our technicians will even be able to tell you the temperature at which your battery may fail. Now that's what we call being prepared!
Ready to make room in your trunk for a little peace of mind? Stash these ten items in your car to better prepare yourself for whatever winter throws your way. Planning for the unexpected could mean the difference between a life-threatening situation and an inconvenient one.