During the holiday season, driving across the Cascade Mountains is a normal routine for us. Same goes for a lot of people during this time of year – Thanksgiving, Christmas and family get-togethers have people driving through pretty sketchy weather conditions. Going back and forth across the mountain pass, Berty and I have learned the necessary things to have in our car during these cold trips home. In this post, we’ve put together a car emergency kit to handle unexpected situations en route. Building your own car kit with everything you may need ensures a safe journey to wherever the holidays or snowy season takes you! If you are holiday drivers like us, consider reading this post and gearing up before you go.
BEFORE YOUR TRIP…
***Make sure your car can actually get across that mountain pass.***
That means checking all car fluids. How are your brakes? Do your headlights work? When was the last time your oil was changed? Here’s a link to winter specific car maintenance. All these questions are SUPER important to ask before you go, because getting stuck in a snowy pass with a broken car is actually the worst thing, ever. However, when you’re ready to make the drive, read on and have a car emergency kit stocked and in your trunk for those unexpected winter surprises.
12 Essentials You Need In Your Car Emergency Kit
It’s helpful to pack all these items in a small, clear plastic bin. Store in the trunk for easy access! Label it “car emergency kit” so that passengers recognize it easily as well.
Water bottles + Power snacks
- Pack several water bottles and snacks to keep you energized if you get stuck in an unexpected place. Try buying them in bulk from Costco!
- If you’ve been running the car battery too long and need an extra boost to get your car started again, these are essential to have. You can also use them to give your neighbor a boost if they have trouble too!
- If your car breaks down/gets stuck/other emergencies, a hazard triangle will let other drivers know that 1.) you are in the area and please don’t hit me, and 2.) you are in some sort of trouble and can use some assistance. These are especially helpful in the dark because the reflective material will keep drivers aware of you on the road.
- If you need to work on your car in the freezing cold, it helps if you’ve got warm hands to work quickly. Keeping an extra pair of gloves (not mittens) and a hat will help you last longer outside. Additionally, if you are in a worst-case scenario and need to spend the night in your car, you’ve got essentials to keep you warm.
- It’s always good to have a blanket or an extra layer packed. Choose one that packs light (like this one from Rumpl) for easy storing.
Extra Phone Charger
- Phones are definitely our main source of communication these days. Make sure to keep your phone charged so you are able to reach help at any time. Make sure to get a car converter that easily hooks up to a USB changer like this one.
Shovel, Ice scraper
- This is important if you need to park your car somewhere snowy overnight. An ice scraper can clear your windows fast. A shovel can help you dig out your car in a snow storm, as well as shovel gravel under your wheels to get some traction on icy roads.
- Washington State Department of Transportation actually requires you to carry chains in your car from Nov 1 and April 1 on specified routes. Being prepared with chains in your car can help prevent accidents and keep roadways clear and safe for all drivers.
Tire jack + Lug wrench
- Not necessary, but makes working quickly and efficiently sooo much easier in cold weather. Store a couple of these in your car at all times.
First Aid Kit
- A first aid kit is helpful all year long, actually. Pack a small one like this with all the essentials.
Flashlight (+extra batteries)
- Breaking down in the middle of the night is pretty scary. Make sure to have a flashlight in your car in order to work on the problem, flag down help, and see your surroundings.
What do you keep in your car emergency kit? Let us know what you pack in the comments below!
Follow our Pacific Northwest board on Pinterest for more inspiration too!
READ MORE PNW TRAVEL:
Finally, thanks for reading as always!
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