15 Essential Items For Your Winter Emergency Car Kit | MG Law

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Don’t Leave Home Without These 15 Essential Items In Your Winter Emergency Car Kit

A Winter Emergency Car Kit Is Always A Good Idea

At this time of year, freezing temperatures, snow, slush, and black ice can make car journeys extremely dangerous. Right now, it’s always a good idea for Canadians to prepare a winter emergency car kit. Kits like these can prove extremely helpful in the unfortunate event of a collision or being stranded by the roadside.

What Are The Common Causes Of Winter Car Accidents?

Winter car accidents are predominantly caused by excessive speed and braking distance on snow and ice-covered roads. In winter, drivers should always drive at a reduced speed and with caution. Tailgating, speeding, and changing lanes without signalling are all common culprits of winter car accidents.

Elsewhere, several inadequacies related to snow removal, tires, general car maintenance, and the number of hours of daylight also contribute to more accidents at this time of year. It’s estimated that nearly 30% of collisions reported to the National Collision Database happen on wet, snowy, or icy roads. [1]

15 Essential Items For Your Winter Emergency Car Kit

1. Blankets And A Sleeping Bag

Just imagine for one second that you break down or get stuck in your vehicle this winter in rural Ontario. It’s generally advised that you stay put rather than setting out on foot in harsh icy weather.

If you must stay for an extended period, setting up blankets and a sleeping bag inside your vehicle will at least provide some much-needed comfort. Better still, sleeping bags can pack up small and easily fit inside your glovebox or beneath your seat.

2. Non-Perishable Food and Snacks

Being stranded by the roadside after a car accident or breakdown is daunting, but it’s even worse if you’re feeling hungry. After experiencing an ordeal like this, you’ll want as many comforting things on hand as possible.

What could be more comforting than a thermos of hot tea, coffee, or soup? Elsewhere, non-perishable snacks like potato chips or cereal bars are always a good idea to pack.

3. First-Aid Supplies

If you’ve experienced a collision, it’s likely you’ve incurred injuries too. If you’ve dialled 9-1-1 but are stranded in rural Ontario with a delayed response time, your body may require immediate attention. A first-aid kit is your best friend in situations like this.

According to the Government of Canada website, basic first aid items include adhesive bandages, adhesive tape, alcohol-based hand sanitizer, antiseptic wound cleaner, blister pads or moleskin, and disposable latex or vinyl gloves. Additionally, gauze, packets of oral rehydration salts, safety pins and scissors, tensor bandages for sprains, a thermometer, and tweezers too. [2]

4. Warm Clothing

Even in winter, some drivers opt not to drive with a thick coat on due to increased comfort. After all, their car’s A/C and heater system can do the job for them. Nevertheless, drivers should always hope for the best, yet prepare for the worst.

In the event of a breakdown, a long wait with no heat can prove detrimental, so packing warm clothing is always the sensible thing to do. Both drivers and passengers should prioritize the packing of winter jackets, boots, gloves, hats, and hand warmers should the worst occur.

5. Shovel

Highways and larger roads around Ottawa are regularly gritted and maintained throughout winter. But what about smaller, untreated roads? Roads like these are extra dangerous during heavy snowfall because vehicles can easily get stuck.

By packing a shovel in your winter emergency car kit, you can literally dig yourself out of a sticky situation. During your next hardware store visit, look out for foldable shovels that can help you maximize trunk space.

6. Tire Chains and Gloves

Tire chains increase the amount of grip that tires have on roads during adverse wintery conditions such as ice and snow. Depending on your destination, and the journey to get there, you may need as much traction as possible.

Packing these chains in your winter car kit, as well as gloves to apply them comfortably, means you can successfully guard against skidding on slippery icy surfaces.

7. Spare Winter Tire

You should know that temporary spare tires aren’t designed to effectively tackle ice and snow. If you’re planning on making several long journeys this winter, you should first have four winter tires installed for maximum traction.

Secondly, don’t forget your spare too. A spare winter tire is a purpose-built solution in an emergency, one that could have you back up and running in next to no time compared to several hours stranded by the roadside.

8. Wheel Wrench and Jack

Like we just mentioned, should you need a spare winter tire in an emergency, you’ll also need a wheel wrench and jack to complete the job. These basic automotive tools are essential year-round, not just in winter, and leaving these items at home could prove very problematic. 

Most drivers have never had to use a wheel wrench and jack before, so if you’re setting off on a long winter journey, it’s probably best to practice at home first.

9. Flares and Matches

Flares and matches are another essential item for your winter emergency car kit because they help you grab the attention of other drivers or passersby when you’re in danger.

If you break down in adverse winter weather, it’s not advised to leave your car or push it elsewhere. What you should do instead is light flares both in front of and behind the vehicle, ensuring the exhaust pipe isn’t blocked.

10. Sand or Kitty Litter

Did you know, having a bag of sand or kitty litter handy is a car survival kit essential too? Sand or kitty litter can provide emergency traction in situations where your vehicle’s tires are stuck. While both solutions can provide traction, kitty litter is typically more effective in an emergency because it’s better at absorbing moisture.

11. Windshield Scraper

One of the most underrated tools around, a simple windshield scraper helps you quickly remove ice, frost and snow from your car’s windshield or windows. Drag the scraper over all car surfaces covered in snow and ice to improve visibility for a safer onward journey.

12. Jump Start Battery Pack

A jump start battery pack could make all the difference for you following a winter breakdown. Transferring power between the portable battery to your car’s discharged battery, these packs give you, the driver, the immediate power necessary to crank the engine and quickly get on the move again.

13. Anti-Freeze and Windshield Washer Fluid

Otherwise called engine coolant, anti-freeze is a coloured liquid that helps drivers to regulate their engine during cold winter weather. If you drive without enough anti-freeze, your engine could overheat or seize up, so having a constant supply of this liquid is crucial.

Elsewhere, having enough windshield washer fluid handy is important too since you’ll need this to effectively improve visibility during cold and snowy weather.

14. Flashlight and Backup Batteries

A flashlight and backup batteries are a fundamental part of your winter emergency car kit. With reduced hours of daylight during winter, stranded drivers can use flashlights to not only perform roadside maintenance but signal for help and rescue during an emergency.

15. Smartphone Charger

Nowadays, most modern vehicles are equipped with USB ports to charge your standard iPhone or alternative smartphone device on the go.

Should the worst occur, and you experience a breakdown or nasty car collision mid-journey, a fully charged smartphone can prove all the difference in effectively dialling 9-1-1, family, or friends, telling them about your location and ordeal, in an emergency.

Don’t Forget About These Winter Car Maintenance Measures Too

Besides the 15 essentials we just mentioned, don’t forget about these other winter car maintenance measures for the safest possible journey.

  • Hire a local mechanic to perform a vehicle check-up
  • Regularly check your tire pressures
  • Consider swapping wiper blades to winter blades
  • Regularly keep your gas tank topped up

How Drivers Can Safely Navigate Canadian Wintertime

Drivers should also take note of these driving tips to safely navigate Canadian wintertime.

  • Always drive to the speed limit but remember to drive under it once temperatures dip below freezing
  • Double your braking distance during fog, rain, and snow to ensure that you have enough time to come to a complete stop
  • Beware of “black ice”, typically on bridges and overpasses, between temperatures of 4°C and -4°C
  • Don’t warm up your car in enclosed spaces like garages
  • Refrain from sudden acceleration and slamming on breaks to avoid skids and slides
  • Don’t stop suddenly on hills to avoid backwards sliding
  • Refrain from using cruise control settings in snowy and icy weather
  • Always check the forecast pre-journey and consider staying home depending on weather severity

If You Or A Loved One Have Been Involved In A Winter Car Accident, Hire MG Law

MG Law’s team of seasoned professionals successfully handle Ottawa car accident claims in winter. If you have been injured or your loved one has suffered because of another’s negligence, call 613-730-8460 to book your free consultation. Winter car accident claims don’t have to be hard when you have the support of MG Law behind you.


  1. https://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/en/gazette/just-the-facts-winter-driving
  2. https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/health-safety/kit

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