Winter Driving Emergency Kit

Prepare for the worst winter driving conditions and hope for the best

If you’re venturing out onto the roads during the worst of the winter weather, it pays to be prepared. The extreme cold significantly increases the risk of breakdown as your car is operating in extreme conditions and road traffic accidents are at their highest in winter. Furthermore, adverse weather conditions often result in major traffic jams and delays are more likely. If you’re caught out whilst driving in winter it could leave you exposed to extreme conditions for some time. We look at what YOU need to pack and what you should pack in your CAR for the complete winter driving emergeny kit list!
 

Winter Emergency Kit – YOU

Winter Emergency Kit – CAR

Winter Coat
Shovel
Blanket / Sleeping Bag
Ice Scraper & De-icer
Food
Screenwash
Water
Torch
Phone / Charger
Hi Viz Jacket
Boots
First Aid Kit
Sunglasses
Jump Leads
Cash
Warning Triangle(s)
 
Road Atlas

Winter Emergency Kit – CAR

We’ve made a list of items we consider essential to assist you and your car when driving in winter, aimed to make it less likely that your CAR will breakdown or get stuck and if it does, how you can resolve the situation.

winter driving emergency kit for car
 
Shovel
Untreated roads can quickly accumulate deep snow and you could easily become stuck, digging out snow from around the driven wheels should enable you to move. You’ll likely need to shovel away a clear path of snow from the car also to avoid getting stuck again. A fold up shovel will stow away nicely, you don't need to take your garden shovel!
 
Ice Scraper & De-icer
You’ll likely keep them at home and use before you set off, but it’s wise to keep some in the car also. You are legally required to keep front and rear windscreens clear and you may well find that you need to clear them again for your return journey or if you are stationary for a long time. A credit or debit card is an effective substitute, however take care as they are easily broken!
 
Screenwash
It’s wise to keep extra screenwash in the car, or at least ensure it’s always full before setting off. Again, you are legally required to keep your windscreen clear and you’d be surprised how much you use in the winter due to the salt on the roads. Using just water isn’t sufficient as it’s likely to freeze in the tank / pipes and be useless. Screenwash has an anti-freeze additive to prevent this.
 
Torch
Always handy to have, make sure you have spare batteries or a wind up one is always handy.
 
Hi Viz Jacket
If you’ve broken down or have to get out of the car and wait for assistance, the road side can be a very hazardous place to be and wearing a high visibility jacket could be a life saver. Did you know that it’s a legal requirement when driving in France. Carry enough for each passenger in the car and where possible, always stand the other side of any protective barrier away from the roadside.
 
First Aid Kit
We recommend that you carry one in the car at all times regardless, you never know when you, a passenger or fellow road user might need a first aid kit.
 
Jump Leads
Car batteries work hard in winter conditions, you’ll likely be using the cars heaters, headlights and wipers which put a strain on the battery. The cold weather also causes the molecular action in the battery to slow down, reducing its rate of charge. Even if not you’re battery, you might be able to help someone else stranded.
 
Warning Triangle(s)
Most new cars will come with a warning triangle and basic breakdown kit, ideally you want to carry 2, but if you only have 1 it should be placed approximately 50m behind the car, facing the direction of upcoming traffic to alert them of your stricken vehicle. Place the other in front if you have one to advise oncoming traffic of the hazard. Switch on the hazard warning lights and never use warning triangles on the motorway.
 
Road Atlas
Most of us now rely on sat nav or smartphones, even if driving abroad, we can now use data roaming in the EU to plan our route, however we can’t always guarantee phone signal, nor battery life. One thing is for sure, an updated road atlas won’t fail, so long as you know how to read one!

Winter Emergency Kit – YOU

You also need to consider other factors and the cause of your breakdown / delay may be nothing to do with your car. A major accident or delay by others could severely impact your journey, if that happens, are YOU prepared for extreme weather conditions.

winter driving emergency kit for you
 
Winter Coat
It seems pretty obvious, but we all jump in our cars and whack the heating on to our desired temperature and sit comfortably. If however you are stuck in a jam, or stranded, keeping the heating on indefinitely is not an option. Make sure you have a winter coat and warm clothes (hat / gloves) as an option should you need it.
 
Blanket / Sleeping Bag
Nobody wants to sleep in their car, but that is a real possibility if you were to get stranded overnight like these unfortunate souls. Having a sleeping bag could prevent a dangerous situation should you need to spend the night in your car as cars do not retain heat for long at all once the engine is switched off and you’ll soon be exposed to the low temperatues.
 
Food
Whilst we can survive for a few weeks with no food, it’s likely to be a pretty harrowing experience and whilst you’re unlikely to be stuck for that long, having a snack in the car is really wise. You’ll want your energy when you do get going again and driving whilst tired can be as hazardous as drink driving. High energy foods are recommended, chocolate, cereal bars are ideal and can be stored in the car for long periods.
 
Water
Unlike food, we need water to survive for even short periods of time and you should always carry water in the car. A litre or so per occupant is recommended. Take small sips as not to drink it all in one go. Not generally associated with driving in winter, dehydration can be as dangerous as driving whilst tired or even drink driving.
 
Phone Charger
It’s almost a given that you, or someone in the car will have a mobile phone. But make sure you have a charger on board so you can keep it going! Using google maps or sat nav drains battery life quickly so be prepared. If you don’t have a charger, don’t spend your time updating your social media accounts with your predicament, that battery life would be better spent making calls to friends or family or for breakdown assistance!
 
Boots
Much like a warm coat, you may not need winter boots when you left home, but if you’re stuck in deep snow and need to get out, it’s wise to have some useful winter boots / footwear.
 
Sunglasses
You might keep a pair in the car for those summer days, however you’re more likely to be driving in low sun during the winter as sunrise sits around rush hour traffic in winter. Lying snow also reflects sunlight and can cause significant glare.
 
Cash
It's always wise to carry a small amount of cash with you in the car, more so in winter as you never know when you might need to pop into a shop or pick something up. Card payment is fine for most things, but some smaller / local shops or even a member of the public (for whatever you might need to buy!) might only accept cash.

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