Car Winter Emergency Survival Kit
Breaking down can be dangerous during winter. Make sure you have a car winter emergency survival kit stored inside your car by reading this guide.
A car winter emergency survival kit consists of:
- A thick blanket or sleeping bag
- Extra warm clothing such as gloves, socks, hats and coats
- Practical footwear like waterproof boots or wellies
- A shovel, ice scraper and de-icer
- An emergency warning triangle
- A first aid kit
- A portable torch and spare batteries
- A mobile phone and charger
Why do I need a car winter emergency survival kit?
If you use your car a lot during the cold winter months of the UK, it's possible you will suffer a breakdown or get caught in traffic due to an accident. If your car is stuck in one spot for over 30 minutes and it's freezing cold outside, it will cool down to the point where the heating will go cold. At this point, you would need to stay warm and safe, as you may be stuck in the same spot for over 2 hours (with some people stranded on a motorway for up to 5 hours after an accident).
This is why it's always a good idea to carry a car winter emergency survival kit. We'll go through exactly what you need below.
A thick blanket or sleeping bag
If you're going to be sat in your car for a while a thick blanket or throw will be able to keep you warm. Carrying a sleeping bag isn't necessary if you're carrying a blanket, but if you're about to go on a long trip taking a sleeping bag may be a good idea if, on the extremely odd occurrence, you need to sleep in your car.
Extra warm clothing such as gloves, socks, hats and coats
Of course, it goes without saying that venturing outside during winter means wrapping up. However, some of us will only dress lightly if we're only driving a short distance. I've done it myself where I've just thrown on a light jacket because I'm only going 8 miles to the nearest cash point, then driving back home. Getting caught 8 miles from home with a broken-down car and light clothing could be a dangerous situation to be in. It's always a good idea to buy an extra pair of thick gloves, woollen socks, a woolly hat and a thick coat. You can keep these in the boot with little issue.
Practical footwear like waterproof boots or wellies
Keeping your feet warm and dry is imperative during the winter. If you have to get out of your car for whatever reason and walk somewhere, like an SOS phone on the motorway, you need good sturdy waterproof boots or wellies. Trainers will soak in the rain or puddles and make your feet wet and cold. Always carry a spare pair of waterproof shoes.
A shovel, ice scraper and de-icer
If you're leaving your car for extended periods of time switched off in the cold, there's a good chance it will freeze over. This ice will cover your windows is extremely hard to remove without a scraper or de-icer. Some cars are equipped with heated windscreen technology, but if you don't there is no easy way to remove ice. An ice scraper and some de-icer is essential during winter. You shouldn't poor hot water over a windshield due to how it can crack the screen. Read more about that on our will hot water crack a frozen windshield post.
A shovel isn't 100% essential but can be useful if you find yourself getting caught during a snowstorm. Certain tyres have terrible traction when driving in snow and it's possible to get stuck on snow when driving both FWD (front-wheel drive) and RWD (rear-wheel drive) cars. A shovel can be handy to move all the snow and get moving again.
An emergency warning triangle
An emergency warning triangle is used to warn other motorists there is a hazard ahead. Usually, motorists will use their hazard warning lights when they've broken down or are parked stationary. However, sometimes hazard warning lights can be hidden from view, such as if your car broke down right next to a bend. Using your emergency warning triangle means you can place it further away from your car to warn other motorists there is a hazard ahead. If you use it in conjunction with your hazard warning lights you're making 100% sure you can be seen.
A first aid kit
If you drive alone or work in remote areas, it's always a good idea to carry a first aid kit for emergencies. A typical kit contains:
- Bacteria cleansing wipes
- HSE, burn and trauma dressings
- A foil blanket
- Washproof plasters
- HDPE polyethene gloves
Some items in a first aid kit have an expiry date and need to be replaced. But the general idea of a first aid kit is to render assistance to yourself and other people where required.
A portable torch and spare batteries
Certain sections of road do not have street lighting along them, which can make navigating them difficult if you have to walk somewhere if you're in an accident or your vehicle breaks down. It's important to carry a spare torch powerful enough to light a path in front of you. It's also possible to use your mobile phone torch but they aren't as powerful as portable torches. Make sure you carry a spare pair of batteries too, in case the current ones have gone dead. You don't want to be caught walking to an SOS phone on a dark motorway.
A mobile phone and charger
No one goes anywhere without their phones these days, which is a good thing for driving, as you will need to contact someone in the event of an emergency. It's good practice to keep your phone charged during long journeys. Which is easy to do when you're driving as you can simply charge it via a USB port or wireless charging if your car has it. You don't want to be caught in the middle of a remote location at night with a broken-down vehicle and dead phone.
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