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What should I keep in stranded car?

Preparing an Emergency Kit for Your Car

Slippery or snow-covered roads, reduced visibility and bitter cold: these are all conditions that can make driving difficult and even dangerous during cold weather months. Winter also brings an increased risk of getting stuck in your car, so dress warmly before heading out.

Follow these tips to learn about winter driving risks and prepare an emergency kit for your car.

Exercise extra caution when driving in these winter road conditions:

  • Blizzards: The most dangerous of winter storms, combining falling, blowing and drifting snow, winds of at least 40 km/h, visibility less than one kilometre and temperatures below -10°C. They can last from a few hours to several days.
  • Heavy snowfall: Refers to snowfalls of at least 10 centimetres in 12 hours, or at least 15 centimetres in 24 hours; accumulation may be lower in temperate climates.>
  • Freezing rain or drizzle: This can lead to ice storms, with ice covering roads, trees, power lines, etc.
  • Cold snap: Refers to temperatures that fall rapidly over a very short period of time, causing very icy conditions.>
  • Winds: They create the conditions associated with blizzards, and cause blowing and drifting snow, reducing visibility and causing wind chill.>
  • Black ice: Refers to a thin layer of ice on the road that can be difficult to see or can make the road look black and shiny. The road freezes more quickly in shaded areas, on bridges and on overpasses when it is cold. These areas remain frozen long after the sun has risen.>
  • Slush: Wet snow can make for slushy roads. Heavy slush can build up in the wheel wells of your vehicle and can affect your ability to steer. Large trucks and buses can blow slush and snow onto your windshield, leading to a sudden loss of visibility.

Follow these tips if you are stuck in the snow:

  • Try to stay calm and don’t go out in the cold. Stay in your car: you will avoid getting lost and your car is a safe shelter.
  • Don’t tire yourself out. Shovelling in the intense cold can be deadly.
  • Let in fresh air by opening a window on the side sheltered from the wind.
  • Keep the engine off as much as possible. Be aware of carbon monoxide poisoning and make sure the exhaust pipe is not obstructed by snow.
  • If possible, use a candle placed inside a deep can instead of the car heater to warm up.
  • Turn on warning lights or set up road flares to make your car visible.
  • Turn on the ceiling light; leaving your headlights or hazard lights on for too long will drain the battery.
  • Move your hands, feet and arms to maintain circulation. Stay awake.
  • Keep an eye out for other cars and emergency responders. Try to keep clothing dry since wet clothing can lead to a dangerous loss of body heat.
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Prepare an emergency car kit

Always have winter safety and emergency equipment in your car. A basic car kit should contain the following:

  • Food that won’t spoil, such as energy bars
  • Water—plastic bottles that won’t break if the water freezes (replace them every six months)
  • Blanket
  • Extra clothing and shoes or boots
  • First aid kit with seatbelt cutter
  • Small shovel, scraper and snowbrush
  • Candle in a deep can and matches
  • Wind‑up flashlight
  • Whistle—in case you need to attract attention
  • Roadmaps
  • Copy of your emergency plan

Items to keep in your trunk:

  • Sand, salt or cat litter (non-clumping)
  • Antifreeze and windshield washer fluid
  • Tow rope
  • Jumper cables
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Warning light or road flares

Print or download the Emergency Car Kit list. Cross items off the list as you put them in your car.

Follow us on Twitter for helpful tips on emergency preparedness: @Get_Prepared

These tips have been brought to you by Public Safety Canada, in cooperation with Transport Canada.

Date modified: 2018-02-21

How To Prepare For, And Deal With, Getting Stranded In Your Car During Winter

Getting stranded in your car is bad enough, but being stranded in severe winter weather could be dangerous. In 2018, AAA estimated that 46% of all crashes involving bad weather take place in the winter and they anticipated needing to aid 960,000 motorists during the year-end period.

If conditions are hazardous, it’s best to stay off the roads, but oftentimes travel is unavoidable. In those cases, you need to be prepared for the dangers of being stranded in your car during the winter.

Know basic car maintenance

Avoid getting stranded in the first place by winterizing your vehicle. You don’t have to be a car expert to know a few basic car maintenance tips. Check your car battery and make sure it’s fully charged, and if it reads as low, add distilled water to help keep it running. Make sure your engine oil has not thickened in the cold weather and check tire pressure. Also make sure your gas tank is at least half full to prevent your gas lines from freezing.

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Prepare a first aid kit

In the event of an accident, there might be cuts, scrapes or larger injuries you will need to tend to. Having a first aid kit in your car will help you treat minor injuries, and stocking it with some basic medicine could help you combat any smaller symptoms. Car first-aid-kit essentials include bandaids, gauze pads, hand sanitizer, antibiotic ointment, vaseline, aspirin and cotton balls.

Keep tools in your car

Having appropriate tools already in your car in case of an emergency may also help you combat some of the challenges while you’re stranded in the cold weather. A windshield scraper, small shovel, waterproof matches (to melt snow), jumper cables, help signs and a flashlight with extra batteries are just a few of the tools you should keep in your car just in case you get stranded. Putting down road salt or kitty litter will also help get your tires going in slick conditions. At the start of the winter season, make sure to check perishable tools, like batteries and matches, to ensure they are still in working order.

Keep extra clothes

If you get stranded in the winter, warmth is the priority. So even if you are dressed appropriately for the cold weather, always keep extra layers of clothing in the car to make sure you will be as warm as possible in the event of an emergency. An injury like frostbite usually affects body parts such as the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers and toes, meaning it’s especially important to have extra mittens, hats, scarves, waterproof boots and a wind-resistant coat. According to Mayo Clinic, the risk of frostbite increases when temperatures reach 5 degrees F or lower. And when the wind’s blowing, frostbite can occur on exposed skin in less than 30 minutes with a wind chill of minus 16.6 F.

Keep a portable phone charger in the car

One of the most important things to have is your phone. Most people will have that in their car already, but making sure the phone can be powered to reach out for help is crucial. If you are stranded, your car battery may not be working, so make sure to have a portable phone charger as a backup.

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Keep a list of important phone numbers

If you’re not good at memorizing numbers or if you need a more expansive list than the one in your head, keep a written list of emergency contacts. If your phone dies and you didn’t pack that charger, but someone like a police officer, rescue worker or other helpful person stops, you will be able to get in touch with a contact.

Keep non-perishable food in your car

If you end up stranded, it may be a while before you get in contact with someone or before help arrives. It’s good to have food in your car so you don’t lose energy while waiting for help. Stock food that needs no cooking or refrigeration is recommended, as is water stored in clean containers or bottles. Granola bars, your favorite dry cereal, nuts and trail mix are all good options.

Stay in your car

If you get stranded in your car during the winter, bad weather conditions might be the cause. Freezing temperatures, low visibility because of snow, and slick streets due to ice make leaving your vehicle dangerous. Subjecting yourself to extended time in cold weather can severely affect your health and cause hypothermia or frostbite.

Keep your seatbelt on

If your car stops running in the middle of the road, keep your seatbelt on. A distracted driver may not notice your vehicle is stalled and there is a possibility someone could hit your car. You want to be ready for that.

Notify the authorities

Call 911 if you find yourself stuck in your car in the winter. Make sure you stay on the line until you know who you have spoken with as well as the steps that will be taken to help you get out of your situation. Being stranded in your car is an emergency and you should treat it as such.

Stay hydrated

Being hydrated is a good way to prevent cold-related illnesses such as hypothermia, frostbite and trench foot. Anything less than a body temperature of 98.6 degrees F can cause hypothermia. Being hydrated is one of the best ways to prevent your body temperature from dropping dramatically and to fight against moisture loss from dry air. A warm or room-temperature drink can help steady your internal temperature.

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Keep moving

Moving your body can help warm your core. Although a car is a small space to be confined in, movement can prevent your body temperature from dropping, which in turn can prevent the illnesses that come along with being in cold weather for an extended amount of time — so keep your arms and legs moving.

Make yourself visible for help

Make yourself noticeable for any help that could pass by. Put on your hazard lights. Keep a help sign, bright-colored flag or blanket or anything that is very visible in severe winter conditions in your car in case of emergency.

Know when to use fuel

Assuming that you have gas in your tank, you should run your engine for about 10 minutes every hour to keep your car warm, according to State Farm. It is also recommended that you turn on your interior lights when your engine is on so you can be seen inside your car. If the storm that got you stuck seemed to come on suddenly, here are some ways that nature may help you predict weather in the future.

Traveling this winter? Here’s what to keep in your car in case you get stuck

Before traveling on icy roads, you always want to hope for the best but prepare for the worst. See the top items to include in your winter driving emergency kit.

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State Farm’s Heather Paul explains what a motorist needs to have in their car to be prepared for winter travel like the deadly Buffalo blizzard. A few simple checks and items can save a life.

Winter weather is upon us, and many things can go wrong when we’re out on the roads.

So before you buckle up in your car to travel over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house, you’ll want to prepare for the worst and pack your winter driving emergency kit.

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FOX Weather Meteorologists Jason Frazer and Britta Merwin explain what and what not to do when it comes to driving in winter weather.

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FOX Weather Meteorologists Jason Frazer and Britta Merwin explain what and what not to do when it comes to driving in winter weather.

Here’s a list of items that AAA recommends should be included in your car’s winter weather driving kit, especially when conditions get bad:

  • Cell phone and charger
  • First-aid kit
  • Flares or reflective triangles
  • Jumper cables
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Ice scraper, snow brush and shovel

A man clears snow from his car on February 02, 2022, in Chicago, Illinois.

(Scott Olson / Getty Images)

  • Tire chains
  • Tire gauge
  • Bag of abrasive materials like sand, cat litter or traction mats
  • Blankets
  • Gloves, hats and scarves
  • Basic tool kit
  • Paper towels or rags

What to do if you get stranded this winter

Are you hitting the roads this winter? Here are some important items to keep in your car when you head out on the roads.

Important items to keep in your car this winter

Are you hitting the roads this winter? Here are some important items to keep in your car when you head out on the roads.

And if you’re among the droves of nature lovers who will be out in full force this winter to take in the majestic and serene sights after winter snow falls, whether it be on a hike or a scenic drive in your car, then you’ll want to take the proper precautions to ensure your survival if you get lost along the way.

If you do get lost or stranded, remain calm and don’t panic.

Are you going on a hike in the woods this winter to check out the scenery? Be sure to prepare for whatever Mother Nature may throw your way.

How to survive if you get lost or stranded in the woods this winter

Are you going on a hike in the woods this winter to check out the scenery? Be sure to prepare for whatever Mother Nature may throw your way.

The U.S. Forest Service says the most important tool to your survival is maintaining a positive mental attitude.

Wyomissing, PA — February 22: A car drives East on Penn Ave in the snow. During a snow storm in Wyomissing Monday morning February 22, 2021.

(Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle / Getty Images)

And as soon as you realize you’re stranded or stuck, stop moving. Panic is the greatest enemy, and that’s where things can go downhill fast.

Then you should think about how you go to where you are, look for landmarks specific to your location and call for help.

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