old car stuck in a snow drift on the side of the road

What emergency items should I keep in my car over winter?

Winter Emergency Preparedness List

For those of us that live in the Midwest, like northern Illinois, heavy winter storms are the norm. If you’ve ever been stranded in a storm, then you know exactly how scary it can be, especially if you’re unprepared. That’s why we decided to put together this list of emergency items that you may want to add to your current emergency kit. This is by no means a comprehensive list and we are by no means survival experts, but this list should help you figure out…

What emergency items should I keep in my car over winter?


Where to Get Your Car Winterized


Snow Chains / Snow Socks

These may take up a lot of space in your trunk, especially if you chose chains over socks, but they are essential. Being able to get yourself unstuck can stop you from being stranded altogether in some situations.

Survival Shovel

Like snow chains before it, a survival shovel can help you get back on the road. Simply digging to solid ground may be the ticket to keeping you from being stranded. Many also work as makeshift hatchets and saws.

First Aid Kit

If you’re in an accident in the winter, then being able to properly treat or bandage any injuries you get is imperative, especially when that accident takes place far from a hospital.

Heavy-Duty Blanket

Staying warm when stranded is perhaps the hardest, yet most important, thing to do in a winter stranding situation. A heavy-duty blanket can help you keep warm in cold temperatures.

Extra Set of Cold Weather Clothing

Extra clothing, particularly cold-weather stuff, can help you stay comfortable in extreme cold, which you may have to face in an emergency situation.

Lighter / All-Weather Matches

Being able to start a fire is a big deal if you’re far away from civilization, especially when it’s cold. A lighter or matches will help you easily get one going.

Flashlight w/ Extra Batteries

A 24-hour winter cycle in the northern states is mostly darkness. Being able to see in that darkness when it comes is a big advantage.

Old-Fashioned Flares

Proper flares—not electric ones—have many advantages. They produce heat, making them ideal for staying visible with lots of snow.

Portable Charger

A cell phone might just be the difference between a few minutes being stuck and a few hours or days. Staying at full charge is a definite plus.

Water / Shelf Stable Food

Unless you’re a survivalist, you probably won’t be able to identity sources of wild food that you can eat. Making sure you have food and water to drink is a good idea.

Need a vehicle that can handle the harsh winter?

Check out our AWD and 4WD inventory. If you’re looking for something a little more rugged, then check out our off-road focused TRD lineup.