Building an emergency kit for your car

Building a Winter Weather Kit For Your Car

Winter weather can be a beautiful and uplifting sight – unless your car is stalled or stuck in that winter wonderland. Suppose you made it through the Virginia I-95 blizzard incident of 2022 or the day Maryland Department of Transportation officials responded to 495 calls in one 2021 winter day or traffic meets weather disasters from any previous year. In that case, you understand the importance of keeping essentials on hand.

A small bag or plastic tote stashed in the backseat with emergency basics can ensure safety and comfort during an unexpected roadside or traffic delay. Whether curating a thoughtful gift for another driver or preparing for the worst, the forecast has in store, here are top priorities to consider when choosing what to include in your winter car emergency kit:

  • Light- If you find yourself with no battery or need to conserve your car battery, having a peripheral light source is crucial. Having one or more LED flashlights or emergency signals can help you see and be seen in an emergency.
  • Heat- It’s far safer to stay inside your vehicle during an emergency. From your favorite fleece throw to an actual solar emergency blanket, be sure to have ample warmth and insulation for unexpected hours (or an evening) in the cold. Gloves and a coat also ensure you can safely exit the vehicle for short periods to assess damage or make minor repairs if absolutely necessary. 
  • Traction- Trouble getting out of a driveway or parking space? Your tires need something to grip to propel your car out of slick spots, and even top-of-the-line snow tires may need extra help. A classic choice for many drivers is kitty litter or sand, but traction mats may be a lighter-weight (possibly neater) option.
  • Provisions- Hydration and food sources are critical to have on hand in case of an emergency. Bottles of water, granola bars, dried fruits, or easy-open canned goods can sustain you in a commute or travel delay. 
  • Rescue Tools- A sturdy snow shovel can make you a popular neighbor in a snowstorm, and a compact version can help you bail out of a parking spot in a jiffy. Window break tools, seatbelt cutters, and road flares can help round out your winter kit to be useful across seasons. 
  • Backup Power- While popular, it’s important to remember that some jump starters are designed to hold only a few seconds of peak amperage. While a compact jump box can double as backup power for personal electronic devices, it’s still good to have jumper cables or a fully charged power station to give your vehicle the best chance of starting.
  • Tire Repair Basics- Cold temperatures cause the air in your tires to constrict and lead to deflation. Whether using a canned product like Fix-a-Flat or a plug-in inflator and patch kit, these are easy and common-sense inclusions for your car emergency kit.

While Roda offers a “Rescue Service” and can help with a jump-start or tire inflation, having full roadside assistance through your insurer or a provider like AAA can also save you on repair bills. AAA members always save 10% on their Roda repair bill.