Your Winter Emergency Car Kit Should Include These 10 Things

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Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared on The Penny Hoarder.

Living in an area with extremely cold winters tends to make you an expert in winter driving.

But skilled winter driving means more than knowing what to do if you slip on ice or how to properly clean your windshield. It means stay on top of important vehicle maintenancelike checking exterior lights, having your battery tested and regularly monitoring your tire pressure.

Just as important, it means packing a winter emergency kit to keep in your car throughout the season. The best way to ensure your safety in case you get stuck in your car during a winter snowstorm – in addition to not driving in said storm – is to pack an emergency winter car kit.

You probably have many items at home that you can use for your car’s winter emergency kit. The rest can be bought relatively cheap.

Phones have become one of the most important resources in an emergency, so making sure you can keep them powered up is essential.

1. Phone charger

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In addition to a charging cord, I also recommend buying a power bank (or portable charger) in case your car can’t supply the power needed to charge your phone.

If you don’t have any extras at home, you can order cheap chargers and power banks from Amazon that will work well in an emergency.

Cost: $25

2. Flashlight and batteries

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While most phones include flashlights, it’s handy to have a flashlight that you can use to look under the hood or the car if you’re trying to fix a problem yourself. Just make sure it has fresh batteries.

Cost: $10

3. Versatile Radio

portable radio
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If your vehicle loses all power and you can’t charge your phone, a battery-operated or wind-up radio may be your only source of emergency information.

Radios are cheap these days, but you can also avoid the cost of a flashlight and phone charging power bank with a versatile hand crank radio on Amazon.

Cost: $20

4. Hats, gloves and blankets

Man in winter clothes
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You should always bring a coat with you if you’re traveling in winter, but it can’t hurt to keep extra winter gear in the trunk.

If you have extra hats, gloves, scarves, socks, and blankets at home, take them. Otherwise, buy used. in a thrift storesince these are for survival, not style.

Cost: $0 to $20

5. Foldable shovel

cold
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If you lose control and run off the road, you may have trouble getting your vehicle out of the snow. Having a small shovel, preferably collapsible, can come in handy in such a scenario.

Cost: $20

6. Road salt or kitty litter

Winter in Arkansas
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Shovels aren’t your only saving grace if you get stuck in the snow. Road salt can provide much needed traction.

You can buy an affordable 5-pound bag to keep in the back of your car. Kitty litter or sand will also work.

Cost: $10

7. Snacks and water

Kirkland Signature bottled water at Costco
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If you’ve been stuck for several hours or more, it’s important to stay hydrated and maintain your energy. Pack a case of bottled water to store in the trunk if you can afford it, and include a bag of protein-rich snacks that don’t go bad quickly, like nuts and protein bars.

Cost: $15

8. Flares and Jumper Cables

Car battery jumper cables
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You should have flares and jumper cables in your car all year round, but this is especially important in the winter when it gets dark earlier and car batteries are more likely to die. You can find a highway flare kit and jumper cables at your neighborhood auto store or online.

Cost: $25

9. First aid kit

First aid kit
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Another year-round staple is a first aid kit, which should include bandages, tweezers, scissors, duct tape, antiseptic cream, painkillers, insect bite cream insects and burn cream. You can find compact first aid kits online that contain travel essentials.

Cost: $15

10. Tools

ice scraper
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Having a few basic tools, including an ice scraper, on hand can come in handy during a real winter emergency. A multi-tool, such as a Swiss army knife, can be particularly useful.

Cost: $25

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