Our Winter Car Emergency Kit Checklist

Winter in New England can get brutally cold, and the weather can be unpredictable. The last thing you want is to have your car break down during winter, but anything can happen, so it’s better to be prepared. Read on to see our full winter car emergency kit checklist to stock up with essentials you may need in your car during emergencies.


Windshield Scraper and Brush

A windshield scraper is essential for removing ice and snow from a windshield, as anyone who has experienced winter weather can attest. You don’t want to lose time or drain your car’s battery, waiting for your windshield to defrost in a severe cold spell or another emergency. If you get stuck on the side of the road while it’s snowing, the brush side of your scraper will help you get all excess snow off of your car once you’re ready to get back on the road.

Snow Shovel

A shovel will be necessary to help you clear a route or uncover your car if snow begins to accumulate around it while it is parked by the side of the road. By reducing the quantity of snow around it or covering its tail lights, you can keep your car visible to rescue crews. A shovel can also come in handy if a plow drives by you while stranded or even in a non-emergency, like a plow coming by to clear a parking lot while your car was there.

Jumper Cables

If the battery dies, you’ll need to be able to jumpstart your vehicle. Even though it’s common, jumping a car might be risky if you don’t do it correctly. The most important thing is to avoid dampness around the cables and never touch the clamps end to end to reduce the possibility of sparking.

Here’s quick step-by-step instructions to use jumper cables:

  • Turn off both cars
  • Attach the red clamp on the positive (+) side of the battery on the dead car
  • Attach the red clamp on the positive (+) side of the battery on the helper car
  • Attach the black clamp on the negative (-) side of the battery on the helper car
  • Attach the black clamp for the dead car onto an unpainted metal surface
  • Start the helper car
  • Start the dead car
  • Remove clamps in reverse order (black clamp for dead car, black clamp for helper car, red clamp for helper car, and then red clamp for dead car)

Portable Tool Kit

A basic toolbox can be handy all year round in your car, much like the first aid kit. Keep these on available in case you need to use them for anything from minor repairs to tire changing.

Road Map

While road maps aren’t as commonly used anymore, they’re an important tool. Your phone may not always have enough service or battery to open your maps on your smartphone in an emergency, but a traditional road map will work just fine in those cases! 

Clothing & Blankets

If stranded on the side of the road, it’s important that you have all you need to stay warm. Whether you’re stuck for 30 minutes or much longer, you’ll be thankful you thought ahead and packed up items like extra gloves, a hot, socks, heavy coat, and snow boots. In some cases, you may have to stand out in rain or snow, leaving your clothes cold and wet. If you have your emergency car kit all set up, you won’t have to worry because you’ll have something to change into to stay dry and warm. It will get cold quickly if you become stuck or are involved in an accident, especially if your car won’t start. Keep warm with a blanket because you can’t always rely on your car’s heater.

Safety Gear

First Aid Kit

In the event of small cuts or pains, a basic first aid bag can be useful, but if you’re stranded, it will be considerably more so. If you take prescription prescriptions regularly, you should include extras in your kit.

Flashlights and Extra Batteries

Visibility can be almost zero during the night or during a near-blizzard. The light from a powerful flashlight can be used to either work on looking into your car’s problem or to signal for assistance. Having extra batteries in your emergency survival kit is a good idea in case your flashlight’s batteries run out.

Fire Extinguisher

It’s not extremely likely to happen, but there’s always a chance a fire can ignite under your hood. Of course, this is a huge emergency, and you have to take extreme caution in attempting to handle this on your own. Car fires can spread very quickly due to all of the fluids in the vehicle, but in case the fire is small enough for you to handle, you’ll want to have a fire extinguisher handy!


Container of Water

Being stuck increases your risk of developing dehydration. For emergencies, keep a sizable glass jug of water in your car. As the water may experience drastic temperature changes inside your car, replace it every several months.

Non-Perishable Foods

Since this kit will sit in your car, you’ll need to make sure any food you pack is non-perishable, so it actually comes in handy when you need it. It may be nice to have in case you just need a little snack one day while driving, but vital to have in case you are stuck on the side of the road after breaking down. Some good examples of food to put in your winter car emergency kit are granola bars, jerky, dried fruit, trail mix, and crackers. 

Miscellaneous Items

Empty Gas Can

This winter car emergency kit checklist item really can go without explanation. If you break down because your car didn’t have enough gas, there’s a chance a kind stranger will be willing to help you fill your empty gas can and bring it back to you. A family member who is able to come help you can do the same. It’s always better to have an empty gas can in your car than to not.

Portable Cell Phone Charger

For the majority of drivers, this is already a need, but it won’t hurt to include a second charger with a lighter adapter in your bag. You should also think about bringing a portable phone charger as this depends on whether you have enough fuel and battery to keep your car running and receive a charge. A portable charger is great to have in general, but it can be really useful in case of an emergency when you cannot use a power source to charge your phone.

If your phone dies and you don’t have access to a charger, print out an emergency contact list to carry in your car. You might be able to use someone else’s phone to call for assistance or to get in touch with your family to let them know you’re okay.

Bag of Sand or Cat Litter

A bag of sand or cat litter can be a lifesaver when your car gets stuck. Sand and non-clumping cat litter will help create some traction in the path of your tires. Having road salt isn’t a bad alternative either, as that can help melt any ice that’s hindering you from getting back onto the road.

Keep Your Car Safe All Around This Winter

Having what you need inside of your car for yourself is important, but it is more important to ensure that your car is ready to take on the winter months. Visit Seacoast Wash to keep your undercarriage clean and the whole exterior of your car protected with one of our Carbonite washes! Call us or contact us here for more information.

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