10 Items You Really Should Have in your Car for Winter Driving

Since you probably don’t have room for a mechanic, doctor and a couple brutes to push you out of a snow-bank, you could at least prepare for the worse with these items.

First Aid First
You should always carry a first-aid kit in your car. Whether it’s summer or winter this is a must have, especially if you have children or accident prone adults. A basic kit will have Band-Aids, bandages, ointment and tape. A well-stocked kit would also have pain pills, alcohol and a nurse. The Red Cross offers several different kits for sale that range from pocket size to full bags. Sorry, they don’t include liquor, pills or nurses though.

Now, this is a device you need whether you’re headed to the mountains or up the street to the grocery store. You would think this is a no-brainer, but I have seen people using cassette-tape cases, credit cards and anything else they can find to scrape their windshields. Okay that was me, but I have since learned to keep a scraper in the car year-round, especially since I no longer have cassette-tape cases in my car. For those of you who must have only the best check out Sharper Image’s heated scraper

Jumper Cables
Unless you’re the kind of guy who replaces his battery before it runs low (I’ve already apologized to the Wife for that one time) you should always pack jumper cables be it, winter of summer. If you happen to have Triple A, they will give you a free jump, but that may be difficult if you’re stranded on a mountain pass in a blizzard. Sometimes it’s the other guy who needs a jump, and besides the good karma factor, helping your fellow travelers is just the right thing to do.

Shovel This
Shovels can not only be used to clear snow from your stuck tires, if stranded, they may be a life-saver to keep you from being buried. They’re also handy when summer camping and you have to go, you know. Grainger has an interesting, compact car shovel that should fit in any trunk.

I See the Light
Flashlights are essential for any type of weather, especially dark. Any trouble you have at night will require a flashlight be it if you’re stuck in the snow, have a flat tire, or are doing, you know, something else that requires that shovel. Maglite has a combo flashlight/strobe that is an excellent tool for seeing and being seen. A company called Light-in-the-Box has a flashlight and window hammer all in one. The hammer is good for busting out car windows if you’re submerged in water, buried in snow, or out of power for those power windows .Maybe a few spare batteries would be a good idea too. Flares are a good idea to warn other drivers you’re stuck on the side of the road, signal rescuers when you’re buried or to add a festive light show to your blizzard party.

I got the Power
Cell phones are the do-all, save-all these days whether you’re hiking or driving. They aren’t much use without power though. Make sure you have a charger in your car. If your car dies, you are out of luck though so maybe next time you switch out your batteries, you could charge and store the old one in your glove box. Spare batteries for that flashlight might not be a bad idea also.

Tools of the Trade
There are some of us who can fix anything, and then there’s me. Even if I’m not The Tool Man, there are some things (loose Battery cables, flat tires and blown fuses) even I can repair. You don’t need a whole Craftsman Tool Chest in the back but a nice auto tool kit would sure be helpful. Sears offers several options from basic (for guys like me) to full-blown, Tim Taylor, manly kits. Of course, you can never go wrong with packing a Wenger Swiss Army Knife. Whether you’re cutting wires and screwing bolts to fix your car or trimming your nails and opening a bottle of wine to await rescue, this is the one tool to have.

Tire in a Can
One of the most life-changing, if not tire-changing inventions in this modern world is Fix-a-Flat. This is a game-changer in the emergency tire repair world. I have used this numerous times and will not leave home without it. For the uninitiated, this little dandy is a can that you plug into the air valve on a flat tire. It not only magically inflates your tire, but spreads some kind of goo inside to help seal small leaks. Not recommended for permanent fixes, this will get you to a shop to repair or replace that flat. Especially handy in a freezing, blowing blizzard when you don’t really want to spend a lot of time outside mounting your spare tire. Although, make sure you do have a functioning spare because Fix-a-flat won’t repair total blowouts.

Dress for Success
You should always pack gloves, hats and maybe scarfs or a spare jacket in the winter. Blankets are a good idea to prepare for the worse. Plus, you never know when you might want to have a picnic, even in the snow. Okay, that may be a stretch but a spare blanket also comes in handy when you want to hide items in your car like X-mas presents or any other purchases at the mall.

Feed the Beast
Some of us travel with food at all times. It’s not necessarily out of concern for safety as it’s just that some of us always have the munchies. While that Snickers bar may not last in the heat, things like Beef Jerky, Granola bars or other dried type of food will come in handy if you drive off the shoulder into a snow bank (I swear it wasn’t my fault.)

All in One
There are so many other items recommended but if you carried them all, you’d have too much junk in the trunk. If you can’t decide, go for one of the kits from Survival Supply which has numerous pre-packaged emergency kits to choose from.

by Michael Ryan

Images sourced from Thinkstock Images