It seems once the frost hits our schedules are filled with football, dance, and traveling long distances to Grandma’s house. That means a lot of time will be spent in your car and the odds of encountering an emergency increase. So it pays to keep your trunk packed with a winter survival kit for you and your kids AND to keep your cell phone with you. Before we get to your packing list, take a moment and download the app: Winter Survival Kit. 


The free APP available for iPhones and Android smartphones, is both a primer to help motorists prepare for winter driving and a beacon when things go badly.

It can pinpoint a motorist’s location, call 911, notify friends and family, and monitor how long the gas will hold out. The app also gives potentially life-saving alerts when users tap a big red button on its simple home screen that reads, “I’m Stranded!” Among the advice: stay with your vehicle and keep the tailpipe clear of snow, since a backup can cause carbon monoxide poisoning.

Some auto parts stores and mass merchandisers like Walmart or Target sell these as a bundle in their own carrying case. But if you don’t find one that meets your price, and you want to combine new purchases with stuff you already have to save money, then here is your packing list.

By the way, this makes a nice holiday gift for a loved one, but should be mandatory for the kid who is off to college with a car in a snow-belt school. Below is the ultimate mom check list for winter survival in an emergency. To print off this check list: Winter Traveling Emergency Checklist

  • A shovel
  • Windshield scraper and small broom
  • Flashlight with extra batteries – enough for your kids too
  • Battery powered radio
  • A case of water
  • Snack food including energy bars raisins and mini candy bars, dried fruit, canned tuna, almonds and formula if you have an infant.
  • Fire-starters: waterproof matches, flint, or blast matches and a lighter.
  • extra hats, socks and mittens for every member of the family
  • First aid kit with pocket knife & scissors
  • Necessary medications
  • Pepper spray or your weapon of choice–you don’t know who you will encounter.
  • Blankets or sleeping bag—enough for each person in your car
  • Hand and feet warmers—you can find these at most outdoor stores.
  • Duck tape – there is always a use for duck tape
  • Paracord (50 yards or more) – it’s a light weight, nylon utility rope
  • Tow chain or rope
  • A syphon and gasoline can – in case running out of gas is the issue
  • Road salt, sand, or cat litter for traction
  • Booster cables
  • Emergency flares and reflectors
  • Glow sticks – great for entertainment & keeping track of kids after dark
  • Fluorescent distress flag and whistle to attract attention
  • Cell phone adapter to plug into lighter
  • Trash bags – this makes a great way to create an outdoor potty for your kids or store a small kid potty
  • Pull ups
  • Baby wipes
  • Deck of cards
  • Puzzles
  • Tag books and Tag Pen
  • Coloring books, markers, crayons, etc.
  • Walking shoes for every member of the family

Kit tips:

  • Reverse batteries in flashlight to avoid accidental switching and burnout.
  • Store items in the passenger compartment in case the trunk is jammed or frozen shut.
  • Choose small packages of food that you can eat hot or cold.
  • Create and laminate an emergency contact list.

911 tips:

  • If possible, call 911 on your cell phone. Provide your location, condition of everyone in the vehicle and the problem you’re experiencing.
  • Follow instructions: you may be told to stay where you are until help arrives.
  • Do not hang up until you know who you have spoken with and what will happen next.
  • If you must leave the vehicle, write down your name, address, phone number and destination. Place the piece of paper inside the front windshield for someone to see.

Survival tips:

  • Keep a checklist on top of your survival kit, and replace items as needed.
  • Prepare your vehicle: Make sure you keep your gas tank at least half full.
  • Be easy to find: Tell someone where you are going and the route you will take.
  • If stuck: Tie a florescent flag (from your kit) on your antenna or hang it out the window. At night, keep your dome light on. Rescue crews can see a small glow at a distance. To reduce battery drain, use emergency flashers only if you hear approaching vehicles. If you’re with someone else, make sure at least one person is awake and keeping watch for help at all times.
  • Stay in your vehicle: Walking in a storm can be very dangerous. You might become lost or exhausted. Your vehicle is a good shelter.
  • If you have to leave your car, write your cell number and the destination you are attempting, place it on the front of your windshield.
  • Avoid Overexertion: Shoveling snow or pushing your car takes a lot of effort in storm conditions. Don’t risk a heart attack or injury. That work can also make you hot and sweaty. Wet clothing loses insulation value, making you susceptible to hypothermia.
  • Be prepared to help entertain your kids. If you show signs of stress, they will become anxious and stressed
  • Fresh Air: It’s better to be cold and awake than comfortably warm and sleepy. Snow can plug your vehicle’s exhaust system and cause deadly carbon monoxide gas to enter your car. Only run the engine for 10 minutes an hour and make sure the exhaust pipe is free of snow. Keeping a window open a crack while running the engine is also a good idea.
  • Don’t expect to be comfortable: You want to survive until you’re found.

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