Putting Together your Winter Emergency Car Kit

Between commuting to and from work, running errands, and schlepping the kids around to various activities, the average American spends over 200 hours a year in their cars.

This is more time on the road than we spend in vacation time in a year!

With all that time in your vehicle, the chances of you being stranded in your car due to a breakdown or inclement weather at least once in your lifetime is more likely than not. For that reason it’s an absolute must to have a Emergency Kit for you vehicle.

And with winter now fast approaching, having an emergency kit in your car is doubly important!

How to Put Together Your Winter Emergency Car Kit

What you decide to put into your car kit is really based on your needs, skill and desired comfort. In this post I’ll show you what I put in my kit but in doing so I’ll explain the core principles that you should follow. Ultimately, how you decide to fulfill those principles is up to you.

Throughout every season, I have two kits at all times in my car:

  • a core emergency-car kit and …
  • a watered down version of my Bug-Out Bag (BOB) — it’s more like a Get-Home Bag

When winter rolls around I add some extra gear that would help me through the rougher weather if I were to become stranded.

Following the 5-Pillars of Survival (+ Tools) Approach to Building Your Vehicle Kit

For all my emergency kits (vehicle kit, Bug-Out Bag, Get-Home Bag etc) I organize them according to 5 principles of survival that I call the “5 Pillars”. Once I have all the pillars accounted for I then add extra “tools” that help make survival a whole lot easier.

Here are the contents of my emergency-car kit organized according to these “Pillars” (items with an ** are what I add for the winter season):


Personal Health & Security

Items in this category consist of anything that helps with keeping you safe, secure and healthy. Here’s what’s in my car kit:

  • small club – In addition to my carry pistol, I keep a small club near my seat as backup (this is actually not “with” my kit in the trunk for obvious reasons)
  • first-aid kit


Shelter

The shelter portion of your emergency car kit should contain all those things that help to protect you from the elements and keep your body at a steady 96.8°F. Here’s what I include:

  • **extra winter clothes (snow pants, gloves, hat, heavy wool sweater and winter jacket)
  • **winter boots
  • **sub-zero rated sleeping bag
  • 2 mylar emergency blankets (in the small BOB)
  • tarp tent (in the small BOB)


Water

The water component contains all those things that help to store, filter, collect, and purify water. It also includes, well, of course…water.

  • 1 gallon water jug
  • 2 quart bottles of water (in small BOB)
  • water purification tablets (in small BOB)
  • collapsible water containers (in small BOB)
  • small water filter (in small BOB)


Heat and Energy

This category contains all those items that you need to create fire, light and energy (including fuel). Here’s what I have:

  • matches (in small BOB)
  • firesteel (in small BOB)
  • flashlight (in small BOB)
  • road flares
  • portable 12V jump starter
  • extra batteries (in small BOB)
  • 1 gallon of gas – beyond keeping my tank always above 1/2, I pack a gallon of fuel just in case. This is rotated every few fillups
  • emergency car heater
  • extra 90% rubbing alcohol for the emergency car heater


Food

The food category includes food itself as well as items that might help you procure food. Here’s what I include:

  • Emergency food bars (in small BOB)
  • Ruger 10/22 rifle with 1000 rds .22LR ammunition


Tools

Once the 5 Pillars are met, you’ll also want to include some extras that help you beyond “just surviving”. This makes up the brunt of what I have. Here’s what’s in my “Tools” category:

  • tool kit – for basic auto repairs
  • duct tape
  • hand axe
  • folding saw (in small BOB)
  • windshield washer fluid
  • antifreeze/coolant
  • 1 quart of oil & funnel
  • Fix-a-Flat
  • tire repair kit
  • **small snow shovel
  • **snow shoes – hey, you never know when you have to trek it home in a blizzard
  • **traction skids – you can also use two pieces of carpet, kitty-litter, or sand
  • **ice/snow scraper
  • jumper cables

A closer look

Here’s a detailed look at my car kit:
I keep my core car kit in a storage container for easy access:
Here’s what my kit looks like year-round in the trunk — plenty of space for extra things
When winter rolls around, I unfortunately have to sacrifice space for security. This is a trade-off I’m always willing to make:

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