Being Safe In The Winter

So, after many friends and other wheelers telling me that the number one best modification you could ever do is to get a daily driver I ended up getting one. I also figured I should get something that will handle a little better in the snow then a Jeep with big old mud tires on it. I just picked up that “new” daily driver and after all the excitement wore off I realizing I needed to put another car kit together. I was thinking about the items that would be needed and I figured I would bring you along on what I pack into it. Some of this will be added into a car kit that I put in my trunk and leave there all year with items added for winter. Other items although basic and what I call everyday items will be in the passenger compartment. I will still go over items that I keep in the vehicle year round as well as some items that only go in when I travel.

There are levels to car kits and depending on where you live or travel they will greatly change or add items to a kits list. For most of this list I will be presuming that the driver is in a more urban or city type setting and gear towards that. As such, the kit will require less than a vehicle travelling through large areas where help can be days away. There are many kits and lists that you can find on Google or YouTube and I find it hard to believe that almost every one of my friends have almost nothing in their vehicle that will help them in almost any weather condition let alone in a winter issue. That being said if all you can do is walk into a big box store and buy a pre made kit then please do that. Most of the items will not be as good quality but they should do the job. Most of my items I have picked up along the way of my driving life or have been handed down or given to me for one reason or another. So because of that I will not add prices or cost to the list.

Car Safety Kit

In this day and age most people will rely on some kind of Roadside Assistance and figure that it will do. Well it just might get you the help you are looking for but will that help get there before your feet are cold or before you are bored out of your mind? Most people will already have the number one safety item on them since you can’t go a block without seeing someone on a cell phone. Most people will also have their identification because you are driving and with that is the second most important item, a small amount of cash. Now, what if you are waiting for your RSA and everything around you is closed? What if you are in an area that isn’t safe for you to get out and walk around? Having some simple items can make waiting in that empty parking lot or on the side of the road/highway for that RSA easier on you. Because of this I will start with what I call a Winter Car Kit and then move on to what I call a Winter Emergency Car Kit. After that I will add items to what I call a Winter Survival Car Kit but since this kit is more for out of town type travel I won’t add everything I would take. These kits are extreme to some and basic for others and will change from person to person as everyone’s needs and abilities are different. Please don’t take this as a one stop shop for vehicle safety and equipment.

Here is what should already be in the passenger area:

  •  Cell phone and ID/cash
  • Sunglasses
  • Cell phone car charger
  • Car brush and windshield scraper
  • GPS unit
  • A good pen
  • Replacement lights and fuses

Here is what we are going to add for our Winter Car Kit:

  • Necessary medications
  • Extra hats, socks and mittens
  • A good folding knife (Rescue or EMS)
  • Flashlight or flasher with extra batteries
  • Light blanket or sleeping bag
  • Snack food (raisins/trail mix)
  • A few energy bars
  • Hot paws (get large ones for inside a jacket)
  • Take water with you each time you travel

Here is what we are going to add for our Emergency Car Kit:

  • Battery powered radio and batteries
  • Fluorescent distress flag and whistle

Here is what we are going to add for our Survival Car Kit:

  • Extra food and water
  • Emergency radio or spot type device

car-safety-2  car-safety-3

Here is what should already be in the trunk:

  • Winter window washer fluid
  • Booster cables
  • Jake and spare tire
  • Emergency flares or reflectors
  • Small first aid kit
  • Small tool kit

Here is what we are going to add to our Winter Car Kit:

  • Collapsible winter shovel
  • Extra coats and boots
  • Tow or recovery strap
  • Work gloves
  • Ice melt, sand, or cat litter for traction
  • Matches/lighter and small candles
  • Bathroom tissue
  • A pack of glow sticks

Here is what we are going to add to our Emergency Car Kit:

  • Large first aid kit (Trauma) with knife (Rescue)
  • More Hot Paws (large ones for inside a blanket)
  • Heavy blanket or sleeping bag
  • Tire chains (if legal)
  • Tire repair kit
  • Waterproof matches and large candles

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Here is what we are going to add to our Survival Car Kit:

  • Small twig or camping stove
  • Stove fuel
  • Freeze dried camping or non-parish able food
  • SOL emergency bivvy bags
  • Small hatchet/saw
  • Come along

I have found that I use very little that I put in my kits now but that is basically because I travel with care and don’t push my luck. I would rather be a few hours late or even move the date of a get together than be stuck in bad weather on the side of a road or worse in a snow bank on my roof. I still don’t travel without my kit and I pack what I know how to use. I have found that little things like coffee and sugar in little sealed packs can be warmed up in a metal cup over a candle if you put that candle in a new clean paint can. You will also find that a single candle can keep a vehicle at a bearable temperature if all else fails. I am very self-sufficient and have no problem with winter survival but survival isn’t very fun. If there is an easy way to fix that then you can bet your bottom dollar I will take it. I don’t keep meals or water in the vehicle unless we are traveling and then we pack what we need to. After all if we aren’t going out of the city why would I pack for survival and waist room? Say I am going to be camping in Algonquin what does it hurt to pack a little extra for that just in case moment.


This kit can be added to as a person sees fit and as always a person should always be self-sufficient. As with all travel, being prepared is the first step to a good trip and checking weather conditions for both departure and final destinations are a must but you should also check for active weather conditions along the route you have planned. Letting people know where you are and where you are going is a great idea as well as checking in with family or friends before you leave and when you arrive. There are more extreme types of kits but if you are a city person and don’t travel in areas that are known for bad weather it’s all more about hours rather than days.

If you would like to check out a video about Winter Driving Survival – 24hrs Stranded in a Vehicle please check out this link. You can also check out a great article by Shaun de Jager.


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