10 items you need in your car emergency kit
The colder days of winter are a great reminder to re-stock your car’s emergency kit—it’s important to be prepared in case something goes wrong. If your car gets stuck in snow or you get into an accident, you might have to wait for help to arrive due to bad weather, even if you have roadside assistance. The following car emergency kit items could help you if the unexpected happens:
1. Warm winter clothes
Depending on what happens, you may not be able to rely on your car heater to keep you warm in cold weather. Keep your kit stocked with winter clothes, a heavy blanket, gloves, and snow boots to help you stay warm.
2. First aid kit
If you sustain minor injuries from an accident, having a first-aid kit on hand will help you address them right away. A well-stocked first aid kit should include phone numbers for EMS and your family members, gauze pads, tape, adhesive bandages, instant ice packs, disposable non-latex gloves, and antiseptic wipes. See the full list of items recommended by the Canadian Red Cross.
3. Seatbelt cutter or knife
It’s always good to have a seatbelt cutter or knife handy if someone is trapped by a seatbelt in an accident. However, if someone is severely injured, you should not move them until medical professionals arrive.
4. Flashlight with fresh batteries and a candle in a deep can
It is very useful to have a flashlight on hand, so you’ll want to make sure your flashlight batteries are fresh and replaced each year. Additionally, a candle in a deep can not only works as a back-up light—it’ll keep you warm without using your car heater.
5. Crank or battery powered radio
You shouldn’t rely on your car radio in bad weather—it will drain your car battery. It’s best to have a crank or battery powered radio on hand so that you can keep up to date with any news or weather alerts.
6. Food and water
Water is an essential item for an emergency kit, however leaving a water bottle in your car all winter will likely just result in a large, unhelpful ice cube. Remember to bring fresh water along with you when you set out in the winter, particularly on longer drives. The food can be anything non-perishable from energy bars to canned food—but don’t forget the utensils or can opener if you need it!
7. Antifreeze and windshield washer fluid
Always keep extras of these important fluids on hand! Transport Canada recommends buying de-icing windshield washer fluid in the -40° range.1
8. Salt, sand, or non-clumping cat litter
Having salt, sand, or cat litter to provide that extra bit of traction can be just the thing you need to stop your tires from spinning and get out of a ditch or snowbank.
9. Jumper cables
Car batteries lose their charge faster at extremely cold temperatures, so make sure you have jumper cables in your car in case yours runs out of juice and needs a boost.
10. Cell phone battery bank
Don’t let your cell phone die when you need it most! Keep a charged cell phone battery bank in your kit, so that you can recharge your phone and make those important calls in an emergency.
With these 10 items, you’ll be prepared for any storm or accident that may come your way. Hopefully you’ll never have to use your car emergency kit, but knowing you’re prepared will give you peace of mind if an emergency does occur.
It’s important to be prepared for the unexpected and having the insurance coverage and service you need is equally important. For more information about your policies with OTIP, or to discuss additional coverage options, contact an OTIP insurance broker at 1-866-561-5559.
1. Transport Canada