The last thing you want to worry about — in any situation — is breaking down on the side of the road. A winter road trip ending up in an emergency situation is never completely avoidable. However, preparation and safety is key to making the best of the situation. And as the Boy Scouts stay, you must always be prepared!
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We have a list of must-have items to keep in your safety kit for your winter road trip:
Basic Car Emergency Kit
There are a few things you should always have on hand in your car, no matter the season.
A good car emergency kit has a first-aid kit. It should be loaded basics like band-aids and non-prescription medications like pain reliever and antibiotic ointment. This is essential for any road trip safety kit.
It also contains a fire extinguisher, hazard triangle, warning light, flares, and a flashlight. These will help you maneuver in the dark and get someone’s attention to help if you need it.
You should also always have tire changing tools in case you end up with an unfortunate flat tire. To change or repair a tire, you’ll need a jack, lug wrench, foam tire sealant, and a portable compressor. A patched tire is no good unless you can pump it back up with air.
It’s good to have a set of jumper cables on hand. There is a good chance you could end up with a dead battery. Odds are high the radio will be jamming all day without turning the car on. If you have jumper cables, you’ll need to flag down a kind stranger to give you a jump. Another option is having a portable battery booster, which is a bit more expensive.
Having a windshield scraper in your car during the winter is key. You need to have good visibility to drive your vehicle safely, and a windshield scraper is the easiest way to get that pesky layer of snow and ice off your windshield. Without one of these coveted items, you’ll end up having to patiently sit in the car with your defrost on full blast, waiting for the windshield to defrost.
Tire Chains and A Tow Strap
When the temperature drops, it gets awfully slippery out on the roads. If you’re going on an extended winter road trip, there’s a chance you’ll need to put chains on your tires to get some extra traction. The Security Chain Company makes an excellent set that you can pick up on Amazon.
If you end up sliding into a ditch or get stuck somewhere, a tow strap will be your new best friend. Familiarize yourself with how to use these before you set out on your journey. Again, you might need a friendly stranger to help pull you out, so that’s where your flares will come in handy.
Extra Layers and Blankets
If your car dies or if you run out of gas in the middle of nowhere, your car won’t be able to provide the heat you need on those cold winter days. You’ll need to bundle up, so it’s always a good idea to have extra blankets (enough for everyone in the car) and more clothing layers so everyone can stay warm until you can solve the problem or find some help. Staying warm is one of the most important parts of winter road trip safety!
Small Folding Shovel
This item could make or break whether you can get out of a slippery situation. If you get stuck in the snow, you’ll be able to dig yourself out. It’s not the quickest solution, but sometimes it’s the only thing that will save the day. You can find them for about thirty bucks on Amazon.
Emergency Food and Water
The last thing you need is to be stuck without food and water in your car if you’re stuck in the snow, have a flat, have a dead battery, or any other number of things that could happen. Having extra water and food in your trunk is one of the most important tips for winter travel.
The food you have should be non-perishable and only saved for emergencies. You don’t want to rely on the snacks you picked up at the last gas station.
Small Bag of Kitty Litter or Play Sand
This seems like a silly thing to tote around in your trunk, but it could save the day if you’re stuck in the snow and can’t get any traction. Throw a little down under your tires to help give your tires some grip. If you don’t have litter or sand, you can try your rubber floor mats in the car. This will help provide a little traction so you can get moving.
Stay Safe Out There
Hopefully, you’ll never have to use any of the items on this list, but in case you do, you’ll be prepared to handle almost any situation that a winter road trip can throw your way. Just remember, if you’re broken down, try to get off the road as much as possible and make sure you use your flares and are visible to other motorists.
You’re good to go – enjoy your winter road trip, and we hope you don’t need to use your road trip safety kit!