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DIY Winter Emergency Car Kit ~ FREE Printable PDF Checklist

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For yourself, and all of the people you love, make this DIY Winter Emergency Car Kit in order to be prepared for winter emergencies. 

We recently went through a severe winter snow storm that left many stranded for days. The worst part about it, aside of being without power and water for five days on Christmas, was all of the abandoned cars left on the roads.

They were blocking roads, in creeks, and in ditches. The stranded cars literally blocked emergency crews from helping people.


DIY Winter Car Emergency Kit ~ FREE Printable PDF Checklist

Something as easy as assembling a winter emergency car kit can be the difference between life and death for yourself or someone you love. It is that serious. 

I recently witnessed hundreds of vehicles stranded on the roads in the winter storm. Snow and ice covered the roads making it impossible to drive.

Winter roadside assistance wasn’t available due to the vast amount of people in distress. Tow companies claimed it would be days before they could get to everyone. 

Winter weather and winter driving is no joke that can leave you stranded with little to no warning. Being prepared with a survival kit is your best chance at making it through the season alive. 

What Is The Best Car Emergency Kit?

You can buy a ready made emergency car kit, however, I have yet to find one that has everything that I would suggest you need to make a winter emergency car kit.

If you can’t make your own, buying one is better than not having one at all. 

Making your own DIY Emergency Car Kit means you can customize it to fit your specific needs. 

How Cold is Too Cold? 

The average human body temperature is 98.6 degrees. Hypothermia can occur when your body temperature drops below 95 degrees. Hypothermia can cause confusion, lack of motor skills, make you sleepy, and more. Your core temperature begins to drop when the surrounding temperature is 50 degrees or lower. 

Keeping warm is essential to your survival in a winter emergency situation. 

For more signs of hypothermia you can see the symptoms at Hypothermia ~ Mayo Clinic

Signs of Frostbite and Prevention

Frostbite is a nasty thing and can be quite painful, extreme cases can lead to amputation. Frostbite occurs when body parts, normally extremities such as the fingers, toes, ears, and nose, are exposed to freezing temperatures. 

Signs of Frostbite

  • First signs are red skin that throbs, burns, or stings.  
  • Yellowish-gray or white skin that feels waxy or firm.
  • Lack of feeling. 
  • Other symptoms include swelling, itching, burning, and deep pain when warming back up.

Frostbite Prevention

Of course some survival situations are unavoidable and if you have to make the choice between dying or getting frostbite, choose life. If you have the ability to protect yourself from frostbite, do everything within your power. 

Some tips on how to prevent frostbite are

  • Dress in layers. The more layers the better. If you have a garbage bag or plastic bags, wrap your feet or hands with them. 
  • Limit your exposure to the elements. 
  • Stay hydrated. 

You can find more Frostbite Prevention tips at How to Prevent Frostbite ~ WebMD

What are the 5 essentials for an emergency kit?

No one can ever predict how long you will be stranded or what your situation will be. I strongly suggest you stock the entire list of the Winter Emergency Car kit, however, if you can only prepare a few things, here are my top 5 suggested items. 

  1. In the cold weather the main concern is to stay warm. Anything that you can use to achieve that goal, use it. This includes extra clothes, blankets, plastic bags, body heat from other people, and burning candles in a tin can to give off heat. 
  2. Staying hydrated. Water bottles are a must. 
  3. Food. Although people can survive for quite some time without food, we function much better with it. 
  4. Way to communicate. A whistle, help sign, solar cell phone charger. Something to signal help. 
  5. First Aid Kit. An injury that goes untreated could hinder your chances at survival. 

What should be in a Winter Emergency Car Kit?

Before leaving the safety of your home in the winter, it’s a good idea to make sure you have:

  • Full tank of gas
  • Your emergency kit well stocked
  • Check the weather and avoid pending storms
  • Check your tires for good tread and check your tire pressure. 
  • Fully charged cell phone. 
  • Let someone know where you are going, the route you’re taking, and expected arrival time. 

Winter Emergency Car Kit Supply List

Get a large tote that you can keep in your trunk for your emergency kit. Check the dates and supplies before each season, rotate supplies as needed. 

  • Flares
  • Reflective Triangle
  • Blanket- Wool
  • Spare Winter Clothing
    • Wool Socks
    • Gloves
    • Hat
    • Scarf
    • Pants
    • Jacket
  • Winter Boots
  • Energy Bars or Granola Bars
  • Beef Jerky
  • Nuts
  • Ice Scraper
  • Water Bottles
  • Body/Pocket Warmer Packs
  • Flashlight
  • Toilet Paper Roll
  • Matches
  • Lighter
  • Salt (for melting snow and ice)
  • Solar Cell Phone Charger
  • Jumper Cables
  • Paracord
  • Tow Chain
  • Rubbing Alcohol (to melt ice on windshield, or to release frozen car doors)
  • Kitty Litter, Cat Litter, or a Bag of Sand (to help provide traction for tires)
  • Small Folding Shovel
  • Metal Coffee Can (burn candle in the metal can to give off heat)
  • Candle
  • Mylar Blanket
  • Fix-A-Flat
  • Car Fire Extinguisher 
  • Local Paper Road Map
  • Whistle
  • Basic Tool Kit
  • First Aid Kit with Medicine
  • A Box of Small Trash Bags- you can use bags to cover your feet or hands to help protect from snow and trap body heat. 
  • Car Window/Windshield Breaker
  • Seatbelt Cutter
  • Poncho
  • Spare Tire

FREE Printable Checklist >>>DIY Winter Emergency Car Kit

How Can I Survive in My Car in the Winter?

Keep in mind the rules of three. Average humans can go

  • Three weeks without food
  • Three days without water
  • Only three hours without shelter
  • And three minutes without air

Of course this is a general rule and not an exact science as there isn’t any scientific data to prove this. If you have food and water and are not in danger of freezing or being trapped, using the car for shelter until help comes may be safer than leaving your vehicle. When you feel it’s safe to do so, seek help as soon as possible. 

Being Prepared 

If this year has taught me anything at all, it was the necessity to always be prepared. From hurricanes to winter storms and everything in the middle. It is essential for our survival to be prepared for the emergencies life throws at us. 

If you want to become more self-sufficient and prepared for emergencies, you will enjoy some of my other articles


A special thanks to all of the members of Old Paths to New Homesteading and Self-Reliant Living for their suggestions. 

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