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Emergency Kit Essentials for Your Vehicle

An important part of the winter preparedness process is putting together an emergency kit for your vehicle. Each driver in your family should have an emergency kit on hand, especially during the winter months when inclement weather is expected. The following items will help keep you safe in the event of a road emergency this winter:

1. Booster cables.

While not winter-specific, one piece of equipment that should always be in your car are battery booster cables. These cables can be lifesaving if you or someone else needs a jump start on the road.

2. Ice scraper and brush.

An ice scraper and brush are necessary for clearing snow and ice from your windshield during snowstorms. Be sure to clear snow from the top of your vehicle as well, as falling snow and ice poses a serious driving hazard to both you and other drivers. Scrapers and brushes can usually be found cheaply at any dollar store and make an excellent addition to any winter emergency kit.

3. Mylar emergency blankets and warm clothes.

If worst comes to worst, you need to be prepared to survive subzero temperatures indefinitely until help arrives. A good quality emergency blanket works by reflecting radiant heat back towards the source - in this case, your own body. These blankets will keep you warm should you find yourself stranded in the snow this winter.

4. Nonperishable snacks and purified drinking water.

If you’re left stranded somewhere for an extended period, it’s a good idea to have food and water on hand to keep your energy up. Great examples of foods with long shelf lives include granola bars, crackers and jars of peanut butter. Wrap the water in your survival blanket to keep it from freezing and make sure to store emergency rations in a waterproof bag or container.

5. A portable shovel and kitty litter.

A small collapsible shovel can be used to dig yourself out of a snow drift. Kitty litter, sand or road salt comes in handy if you slide off the road and need traction to get yourself going again.

6. Car phone chargers and portable power banks.

Keeping a car charger on hand allows you to call for help in the event of an emergency. You should also keep a fully charged portable power bank in your kit in case your car battery dies.

7. A fully stocked first aid kit.

While serious injuries will require medical attention, a good quality first aid kit will allow you to stabilize yourself until you can make it to a hospital. Keep your first aid kit somewhere it can be retrieved quickly and easily.

8. Road flares.

Flares can be found at most auto parts stores and are a valuable addition to any emergency kit. Road flares can be used for starting a fire, alerting other drivers to a wreck or signaling for help.

9. An LED flashlight and extra batteries.

A flashlight can be used for changing flat tires and signaling oncoming cars. Do not rely only on your smart phone as a light source. If your phone dies while attempting repairs, a durable flashlight with fresh batteries will be exceptionally helpful.

10. An air compressor and tire repair kit.

If you have a flat tire, an air compressor can be used to pump your tires back to normal size. Then, you can use the repair kit to patch any troublesome leaks and get you back on the road. While a patched tire will still need to be replaced as soon as possible, these tools can buy you some time to get back to your house or an auto repair center. Keeping a high-quality emergency kit in your car can make all the difference should you find yourself in a slippery situation this winter. Make sure to review this list carefully and don’t be afraid to add or remove items to meet your individual needs. For example, if you require any kind of life-sustaining medication, your kit should include a day’s worth of medicine to sustain you in an emergency. Remember that the best way to handle emergencies is to stay calm and be prepared. In addition to packing a kit to protect yourself in an emergency, you should also reach out to an independent agent to ensure that your vehicle is properly protected for winter-related damage.