With the season's first big snowstorms on their way to New England, it's important to make sure your car is equipped with a winter survival kit.
A "winter survival kit" contains the cold weather supplies and emergency equipment you'll need if you find yourself stranded in the middle of a storm or a cold snap. Any number of things that can go wrong during a winter storm—crashes, malfunctions, stuck tires— and cold temperatures make roadside emergencies even more dangerous. Of course, we hope you never have to use it, but it doesn't hurt to be prepared, just in case. Taking some time to get the right gear together will make things easier if things do go sideways.
We put together a checklist with 7 important things you should keep in your car's winter survival kit:
The Ultimate Winter Survival Kit
- A sturdy snow brush and an ice-scraper. With the massive amounts of snow we get here in New England, having a quality brush and scraper in your car at all times is a must.
- A small shovel. A shovel will prove to be really helpful if you get stuck, or if there's an unexpected storm. Otherwise, you'll have to get resourceful and dig your way out.
- Extra blankets and other winter layers. If you break down in the snow or get stranded in a storm, you likely won't be able to walk to get help. And, depending on the severity of the weather, you might be waiting for roadside assistance for a while. You'll want some extra layers in your car to help you bundle up and keep warm. It's a good idea to stash some water and in your trunk, too. Just in case.
- Emergency reflectors, flares, or a flashlight. If you're stuck in a storm, it's often difficult for oncoming cars to see you through the snow. Having reflectors, flares, or even flashlights on hand will help alert other drivers.
- Rock salt, sand, or kitty litter. If your tires are spinning in snow or slipping on ice, these can help you create traction. The granular mediums provide something for your tired treads to grip to.
- Extra windshield washer fluid. You'll go through a surprising amount of windshield washer fluid trying to keep the grime and water off your windshield, especially if you regularly drive on the highway. It's always a good idea to have an extra jug in your truck to make sure your visibility isn't compromised if you run out unexpectedly.
- Jumper cables. Batteries can be finicky in the winter, particularly older ones. You should always have cables in your car in case of an emergency; during the cold weather months, this becomes especially important.
Keeping a winter survival kit may seem like overkill but being prepared for the worst could save your life in an emergency. At V&F, we strive to provide our customers with a well-rounded knowledge of all things automotive. Since 1988, our family-owned and operated service center has been providing top-quality auto repair services to Agawam, Feeding Hills, Southwick, West Springfield, and the surrounding Massachusetts communities. If your car needs maintenance or repair before this winter season, call us at (413)314-2280 or schedule an appointment online.
This article was originally published in 2020 and has been updated for accuracy.