How to Prepare a Winter Survival Kit for Car

If you frequently drive during winter, you need to have a survival kit. But what is this kit anyway? It's a pack of must-have items to keep you safe in cold weather, particularly if you're stranded or isolated.

The content of your kit might vary based on where you live, the climate, and your personal needs. But one thing's for sure: a well-stocked winter survival kit could be a lifesaver for you and your passengers in case of emergencies. You can find these kits online or in stores, or you can put one together yourself. In this blog, we're going to guide you through creating your own winter survival kit. Let's dive in.

Do You Need to Have a Winter Survival Kit?


man and woman packing bags in a van
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Absolutely. Winter weather can be unpredictable. Roads can quickly get blocked due to snow or ice, and if your car breaks down or you're in an accident, you might not receive help immediately. Imagine being stuck in the middle of nowhere with biting cold temperatures. A winter survival kit ensures you have the necessary items to stay warm, hydrated, and fed in cold weather.

Plus, it includes tools that can help you signal for help or make minor repairs to your car. Regardless of how short your journey might be or how mild the winter seems, these kits are a good idea to have.

What Do You Need to Have in Your DIY Winter Car Survival Kit?


fully equipped first aid kit
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Planning to put together your own DIY survival kit? Here's what you need to have in it:

1) Warm Clothes and Thermal Blanket

If you find yourself stuck or stranded in cold weather, staying warm is your top priority. Make sure you have basics like wool socks, a heavy fleece or down jacket, hats, and gloves. These items retain heat even when wet, making them ideal to withstand winter's freezing temperatures.

Also, include a high-quality thermal blanket or an emergency space blanket. These blankets are lightweight, compact sheets made from a heat-reflective thin plastic sheeting. Their primary purpose is to retain body heat in emergency situations, with some retaining up to 90% of your heat. They can prevent hypothermia and unlike regular blankets, they're also waterproof and windproof.

2) Candle-Powered Heater

A candle-powered heater consists of one or more candles and a metal container or can to hold them. When the candles are lit, they generate heat, and the metal container amplifies this heat to warm up a cold car when the temperature drops low.

For safety, choose a sturdy metal container that can securely hold the candles. You'll also need candles made of beeswax or soy, as they burn longer and cleaner than paraffin candles. When using these devices, make sure there's sufficient ventilation in the car to avoid carbon monoxide buildup.

3) LED Flashlight

LED flashlights are preferred because they are more energy-efficient, durable, and longer-lasting compared to traditional bulbs. They can provide a bright light with minimal battery consumption, which is exactly what you need during an emergency.

Choose a flashlight that is compact yet powerful. Many LED flashlights come with adjustable settings. Also, consider a flashlight with a sturdy casing that can withstand cold temperatures and rough handling. Remember to pack extra batteries or opt for a rechargeable model.

4) Snow Shovel

This tool is a must-have if your vehicle gets buried in snow or if the path ahead cannot be crossed due to the mountains of snow. When choosing a snow shovel, look for a collapsible or foldable model designed for emergency use. Also, go for a shovel that has a sturdy handle and a durable blade.

5) Ice Scraper

An ice scraper is crucial for removing ice and snow from your vehicle's windows and lights. Without this tool, you won't be able to see anything.

When choosing an ice scraper, go for one that has a comfortable handle so that scraping is easier, especially in freezing conditions. Also, look for a sturdy ice scraper that comes with a brush on one end so that it's easier to brush off loose snow before tackling the ice.

6) Windshield Washer Fluids

Windshield washer fluid is crucial for keeping your windshield clean from dirt, salt, and slush that can block your view when driving in winter. Make sure you choose one with antifreeze properties to avoid cracking your washer fluid reservoir. Most windshield washer fluids made for cold climates already have these properties.

Also, remember to keep an extra bottle in your vehicle during winter. The dirty spray from salt and sand-treated roads can use up your supply fast.

7) Sleeping Bags

Hypothermia can be a real danger if you're stuck in your car during a winter storm. A good sleeping bag can be a lifesaver in such situations. When selecting sleeping bags, opt for models rated for temperatures lower than the coldest weather you anticipate so that you can withstand the extreme cold. Also, go for a model that comes with compression sacks so that it can easily fit in your car.

8) Tire Chains

Tire chains enhance your vehicle's traction, making it easier to drive on slippery surfaces. Before winter hits, make sure you have a set of chains that fit your vehicle's tires. Using chains that are too loose can damage your vehicle, while overly tight chains can pose a safety risk.

Other Essential Tools to Include in Your Winter Survival Kit


emergency roadside kit with essentials
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Here are some other essential tools you need in your winter survival kit. These are not winter-specific but are general essential tools that you need:

Jumper Cables: Always carry jumper cables to handle battery issues in cold weather. They can help you or another driver start a car when the battery dies. Choose cables with thick insulation and strong clamps.

Multi-tool: Include a multi-tool that combines several functions in one device, such as pliers, a knife, screwdrivers, and a can opener. This tool can help you manage minor repairs or adjustments on the go.

Portable Phone Charger: You need a charged phone to call for help in case of an emergency. Opt for a portable charger that holds multiple charges and is reliable in cold conditions. Place it in a warm location to prevent any issues.

Road Flares or Reflective Triangles: If your car breaks down in a remote area, road flares and reflective triangles can make it more visible. This helps prevent other cars from hitting you and signals to others that you need help.

Whistle: Carry a whistle to signal for help. This tool will draw attention if you're unable to shout or if your phone isn’t an option.

Sand or Cat Litter: Keep a bag of sand or cat litter in your trunk. It can be used to provide traction if your vehicle gets stuck in the snow. Just sprinkle some around the tires to help them grip the road better.

Map and Compass: Even if you typically rely on a GPS, having a physical map and compass can be invaluable if your electronic devices fail. Knowing how to navigate the old-fashioned way can get you back on track if you get lost.

First Aid Kit and First Aid Manual: Make sure you have a fully equipped first aid kit with all the basics to deal with a minor injury. Besides having a first aid kit, include a simple manual with instructions on how to handle common emergencies.

Canned or Bottled Drinks: Don't forget to stock your kit with canned or bottled drinks, such as water or sports drinks, to stay hydrated.


Preparing a winter survival kit for your vehicle is essential for staying safe during the cold months. By packing items like warm clothing, a candle-powered heater, LED flashlight, snow shovel, ice scraper, and tire chains, you'll be able to handle unexpected situations on the road. Make sure to check and update your kit each season to ensure everything is in working order and ready for use.

Looking for a comprehensive emergency kit for extreme temperatures? Check out Emergency USA. Our kits are packed with all the essentials you need to handle severe weather, from heavy-duty thermal blankets to reliable multi-tools. Shop with us today.