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DIY Winter Emergency Kit for Your Car

When my husband and I were first married, twelve years ago, we moved from North Carolina to Maryland. Being from New Jersey, I thought I knew everything there was to know about true winter weather, which I was sure we were bound to experience in Maryland. Late one night, we were driving home from an event a few towns over from where we lived. It had been snowing lightly for a few hours, and we were sure we'd be able to make it back to our apartment with no problems. What should have been a half an hour drive turned into a three-hour drive and is one of the scariest I can remember having to help my husband navigate.

We were caught off guard and weren't really very well prepared to do a lot of winter driving. You can be an experienced driver in snow and ice and still not be prepared or know what to do to stay safe if your car isn't prepped for winter before winter weather hits. My worst fear that night was that we'd find ourselves off on the side of the road, unable to continue the drive home because the roads were far worse than we'd realized. I vowed then and there to always make sure that we had a winter emergency kit for our cars, stocked and ready in case we ever needed to use them.

You can certainly purchase pre-made emergency kits for your cars, and they're an excellent idea to have on hand year-round. A winter emergency kit will have a few essential items that are geared toward keeping you safe and warm in case you find yourself stranded during cold temperatures.

Your kit should include the following items:

Storage bag, like a duffle bag or backpack.
Something that is weather-proof and durable is a great choice. It's also good to have a bag that can easily be slung over the shoulder in case you have to travel on foot with the bag.

Small shovel.
This is an item you might not immediately think to add to a car kit, but it's oh, so practical! I have had to dig out being stuck in the snow before, and a small shovel can really help you out if you're ever in such a bind.

An emergency blanket is a great idea for every car kit, no matter what time of year it is. You might just rely on it to stay warm inside your car or out.

First Aid Kit
Keep a first aid kit with you in the car at all times.

Fresh water and non-perishable foods.
While you don't want to cart around a ton of food in your car, it's a good idea to have bottled water on hand, as well as foods that will give you energy, like granola bars, in case you become stranded without access to food.

An LED flashlight will help you be able to see much better in the dark than a traditional flashlight. It will also have longer battery life and may help you be more easily spotted if you're trying to signal for help.

If you do find yourself stranded in inclement winter weather, and cannot safely access immediate assistance, stay in your vehicle to keep warm. Use your cellphone to call for help, and wait inside the vehicle, using the blanket to stay warm as you wait for help to arrive. Make sure that all drivers in your household have a basic winter emergency kit for their car in their trunk, just in case.

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