Commuter Hacks: Winter Emergency Car Kit

Winter is looming.  Even though today is oddly warm (it’s 91 degrees F here with a heat advisory today, seriously?)  Soon enough tho, the snow will be falling.  As I am driving in and out of the Twin Cities daily with my 4 year old daughter, I need to be prepared.  There could be a night where we need to find a hotel instead of chancing the drive back.   We could get stuck in a ditch somewhere.  Minnesota winters are no joke.  I did some research last year on winter emergency car kits and purchased the items I found that make the most sense for us.  Once you make your winter emergency car kit, the upkeep is very minimal year-after-year.  This year, all I had to do was switch out bigger clothes that fit my kids this winter and fresh snacks/food.  Easy.

Here is a list of items in my winter car kit:

  • Coleman Folding Shovel– This is a small shovel that is metal and folds in half.  I don’t really need to explain the importance of a shovel in Minnesota in the winter.   I thought it was a good purchase (about $13) to keep in the car incase I do end up stuck in some snow.
  • Rain Ponchos– I have 3 in my car and 2 in my husband’s.  Use: in a snow-storm as extra protection from the wind and snow.
  • Pennzoil Gas Siphon Pump– If you are stuck somewhere, chances are you are going to need to run your engine every couple minutes to blast some heat.  Who knows what your gas situation will be like at that moment.  I thought this is easier then an empty gas can that would need to be filled.  However, you need to find a friendly citizen to share some gas, if that ends up being your situation.
  • HotHands Hand Warmers, 10 count– I divided it in half.  5 sets in each my husband’s and my car.  Hopefully that makes sense.
  • Duct tape- I had some at home… has a million uses.
  • Red Bandanna– I read that attaching this to your antenna is a signal of stress.  Bandanas are versatile and can be used for a variety of random things, including keeping some of the blowing snow and wind from your face (you might look like a bandit) but it would help a bit.
  • Glow stick-  Use: swing this around in a circle on cording/string/rubber band which causes the light to appear bigger and to be seen easier/farther away for getting help.  Think how early it gets dark in the winter, at 5 pm it’s already super dark outside.
  • Four-Function Whistle– can also be found in the camping section it contains an emergency whistle, a compass, a thermometer, and a mini-magnifying glass (not sure how useful the magnifying glass is, but the other 3 tools are smart to have).
  • Waterproof Matches– In the event you need to start a fire to stay warm.  I am not sure at what point you would need to start a fire, as you would have to go look for wood (and at that point, you should maybe just be looking for a house for help), but they were cheap, recommended on several sites, so I bought some.
  • Kitty Litter- Use: sprinkle on the ground if you are stuck in a snowbank in-front of your tire(s) that are spinning and not getting traction.  This will give the tire(s) something to grip onto and hopefully help get you out of the snow.
  • Tow Cables- If you end up in a ditch, a big truck might be all you need to get out.  Who knows if the next truck that drives by is going to have tow cables.  Keep a set for yourself, just incase.
  • Jumper Cables- This is not winter emergency kit specific for my car.  These are in year-round.  If you don’t have a set, buy some!
  • Phone Charger- Nothing worse then your phone battery dying before you can get help.
  • 2 flashlights-  The one still in the packaging has 200 lumens.  This is decently powerful.  The small grey one was $1.  I would use the cheap little one in the car with my littles in the event that we had problems when it was dark to save the battery on the powerful one to get help/ do repairs.
  • Medicine: acetaminophen, ibuprofen, antihistamine, Pepto chewable tablets, and cough drops.   I wrote on the ziplock the amount and frequency of each of these meds that is recommended.
  • Kid’s Tylenol: Chewable and liquid
  • Cash- I chose to stick $12 in both cars.  One $5,  five $1’s, and $2 worth of quarters.  This relates back to the gas siphon.  If your friendly citizen siphons some gas for you, you could always give them some cash back for their troubles.  Also, I sometimes don’t have cash on me.  $12 isn’t much, but just a backup.
  • Pen
  • AA and AAA batteries- 4 of each
  • Road map of Minnesota (or whatever state you live in)
  • Emergency phone numbers list- Heaven forbid something happens to your phone or it dies… do you know enough of your family and friend’s numbers to get ahold of someone?
  • Tampons- cause you never know…
  • Ziplock bag
  • Extra Pull-ups or Diapers
  • Wipes
  • Toilette paper
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Lotion
  • Chapstick
  • 1st aid kit
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Ice Scrapper
  • Snacks/Food
  • Bottled Water
  • Coloring books and crayons- if we are stuck somewhere, having something that will entertain my kid(s) will be useful.
  • Kids books

For clothing I have a complete extra set of clothes for each of us.  Shirt, pants, undies, and socks.  I also have hats and mittens for each of the 4 of us.  (Just incase we didn’t leave the house with any).  And also a bonus, if we did have some with… these would be an extra layer for warmth.

Look for images of the completed winter emergency car kit tomorrow!

Like this post?  Check out my other Commuter Hacks articles below.
Day 1: Commuter Hacks: Productively Passing the Time
Day 2: Commuter Hacks: Essential Products to keep in your Car
Day 3: Commuter Hacks: Food for your Drive

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