Build Your Own Winter Travel Survival Kit

With the holiday travel season upon us, now is a good time to put some thought into preparing a Winter Weather Car Survival Kit. It just might come in handy should you or your family become stranded during a winter storm.

The first item to set aside for your winter weather car survival kit is a couple old blankets to help keep you warm if your vehicle gets stuck in a snow drift. You might also consider placing a stocking cap and extra set of gloves in your kit, which you will appreciate if you need to change a tire when the outside temperature is 15 degrees! 

Another good item is a flashlight, and one or two extra sets of fresh batteries. If you’ve ever tried to change a tire after dark you’ll know how valuable this item is. A flashlight will also come in handy if you need to signal someone for help. For a few extra dollars, consider a flashlight that doesn’t require batteries, one that you shake for 30 seconds to get light.

Now add a bright red or orange cloth to use as a distress flag. This can be an old red T-shirt, a used shop rag, or some fabric you have in storage. During a winter storm when visibility is poor, a bright red shirt or rag tied to your car’s antenna will alert law enforcement that you need assistance.

Okay, it’s time to add a snow shovel to your kit. Chances are a shovel you use for gardening won’t really be needed until spring and can serve you well in the trunk of your car in winter. A shovel can make the difference between remaining stranded for hours, or being able to continue on a journey. Some department stores even carry shovels where the handle can be collapsed to make for easier storage.

Something else to consider is something to use for traction, such as sand or cat litter. I carry a couple one gallon milk cartons filled with sand from my daughter’s sandbox. Cat litter also works great. Place sand or litter under the wheels and the additional friction may be enough to help free your vehicle.

Now complete your kit by adding a small amount of non-perishable food in the event you become stranded for any length of time. Gather some food items which will not spoil such as granola bars, candy bars or beef jerky. Even small cans of fruit work well if you remember to get cans which have a pull top. Another item to pack is water. Just fill any type of jug or bottle with tap water. Another option is to pack a mug and simply collect snow for drinking water, but be careful if you go this route because the water from melted snow will be very cold and could actually lower your body temperature a bit.

So there you have it...your Winter Weather Car Survival Kit. Most of these items can be placed in a large plastic bucket or a duffle bag. Remember the old saying about an ounce of prevention... Be safe this winter travel season, and remember to check the latest weather forecasts and road conditions before venturing out this winter at

David Floyd
Warning Coordination Meteorologist
National Weather Service Goodland KS




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