Winter Preps To Keep In Your Car

December 23, 2012, by Ken Jorgustin


As you travel in your car during the winter months, keep these important preparedness items in the vehicle at all times. Your survival may even depend on it.

Even though we put on a jacket and/or other appropriate weather gear before we walk out the door and get into the car, it is not always the best clothing choice if we were to become stranded and had to endure the elements for awhile outside. We often make an assumption that we will simply be out in the elements between the front door and the car, and then the car and the entrance to our destination. The total time outside may be short, and we may not be appropriately dressed if we had to face the elements for more than a short time. For this reason it is a good idea to keep extra outerwear gear in the car.

Even if you walk out the door with these items on your person, consider keeping extra inside the vehicle at all times for when you may not have them on a given outing. Keep them in a  bag, backpack, or bin in the trunk, or wherever. Sure, it will cost you a few extra dollars to buy this stuff if you don’t already have extras, but it is good insurance.

Scarf. Not the thin decorative type, but a substantial warm scarf.

Gloves. Not the cheap kind with no insulation, but something warm with ‘Thinsulate’ or other insulation.

Hat. A warm pullover hat that will cover your ears.

Umbrella. The small popup umbrellas don’t take much space to keep handy.

Poncho. A rain poncho provides a significant protection from developing hypothermia if you need to walk far in a cold rain (assuming you have a proper jacket underneath).

Walking shoes. This could be sneakers or whatever you are comfortable walking in. You may not always be wearing shoes that are good for walking, so this is a good thing to keep in the car just in case. Keep a pair of warm socks too.

Jacket. Keep one of your extra jackets in the car instead of in your closet at home. If you ever need to double up, or if you simply do not have adequate outerwear protection when you need it, this could be a life saver. If you don’t have an extra jacket, keep a sweatshirt, sweater, or ‘something’…

Blanket. A wool blanket is a very good choice. Keep one for each person that may be typically traveling with you.

Water. Even having a few water bottles sitting in your cup holders will be better than nothing. If you have to hoof it, water bottles are easy to carry or throw in a bag.

Backpack. A simple shoulder bag or light backpack to carry a bit of gear (food/water) if you have to walk out.

Food. Food bars are a good calorie dense and light weight emergency supply to keep in the car. Put a bunch of them in a zip-lock or container and keep out of the sun.

Shovel. Since we’re talking about winter, keep a small shovel in case you need to dig out of a slippery situation.

Ice scraper. You probably already have one, but double check to be sure.

Snow brush. Self explanatory.

Windshield Washer Fluid. Keep extra of the kind that will not freeze. There are lots of washer fluid varieties that will not hold up to freezing temperatures, so check the label.

Tire chains. Just buy a set that matches the size tire on your vehicle. Practice putting them on once, so you know how.

Flashlight. Keep at least one decent LED flashlight.

Cash. Keep a small cash stash in case you’re in a situation where you need it. Don’t be tempted to use it for non-emergencies. If you do use it, replenish it immediately.

Cell phone charger. You have a cell phone, but do you keep a car charger inside the car at all times?


That’s a start… It would be easy to carry on while suggesting all kinds of additional gear, a proper 72-hour kit, etc., but hopefully this will get you thinking about specific WINTER items to keep in the vehicle during the winter season. Just think for a moment if you had to walk a ways in the winter elements. Would you have what you need until you get help?


If you are thinking about keeping a bag of Kitty Litter for winter traction… think again. Apparently for the majority of varities, if you look closely at the bags contents it will say “clay” is the main component. Clay? Yep. So what do you get if you mix clay with snow or slushy water and add some heat from the friction of a spinning tire??? You get mud. So now, your car is stuck in snowy mud. Think that’s slippery? Oh yeah! Instead, use sand or very fine pea gravel.


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