7 items to keep in your car

Mechanic working on car tires

Winter tires are a necessity, but they’re not the only way you should prep your car for the season. In case of emergency, your car should always be stocked with these seven crucial items that could save your life.

1. Things to Help You Keep Warm

Winter temperatures in parts of Canada can be consistently -30°C , so if your car breaks down, priority No. 1 is to stay warm while the problem is fixed. Keep blankets in the backseat of the car for easy access, and pack an extra winter coat, sweater, mitts, toques, and heavy socks in the trunk. Stash disposable hand and toe warmers in the glove compartment.

2. A Stocked First Aid Kit

You should always travel with a first aid kit, but it’s even more important in winter when accidents are more common. The kit won’t just help if you or a passenger is injured, it should have tools to signal cars if you’re in distress. Use this checklist to stock your kit, at minimum, or purchase a pre-packed one:

  • Pair of scissors

  • Bandages of all sizes

  • Gauze pads of all sixes

  • Adhesive tape

  • Hot compress

  • Alcohol prep pads

  • Nitrile gloves

  • Swiss Army or multi-function knife

  • Seat belt cutter

  • Matchbook

  • Emergency light sticks

  • Flashlight and batteries or wind-up power flashlight

  • Whistle

3. Fully Charged Phone and Charger

A cell phone can be a lifesaver in an emergency. Don’t leave home in inclement weather with a drained cell phone battery, and invest in a car, portable, or even hand-crank charger to keep in the glove compartment.

With a phone, you can call roadside assistance, or 911 if the situation is dire.

4. Snow Removal Tools

There are three major snow removal tools that are indispensable in winter: an ice scraper with brush, a portable shovel, and windshield de-icer. Ensure your ice scraper has a long handle to reach the top of the windshield, and stow away a sturdy portable shovel. You’ll be glad you have it if you’re trapped in a snowbank. Extra de-icer can help in emergencies, and it can be used to melt ice on the ground for traction.

5. Products That Help Tire Traction

When the weather hits 7°C, non-winter or all-season tires harden, losing their effectiveness to grip the road. Winter tires, on the other hand, are specially designed with a softer rubber compound that stops this from happening, allowing them to retain their grip on the road, even during slippery conditions.

But you should always have a backup plan. A simple bag of sand or salt will give tires traction on slippery surfaces.

6. Dry Food in Case Hunger Sets in

Hopefully, any car trouble will be fixed before hunger becomes a problem, but be safe: Keep non-perishable food, such as energy bars, in the car.

7. Tools For When Help Should Arrive

If those light sticks or flashlight in your emergency kit are able to signal another driver to help, be prepared with booster/jumper cables and a tow rope or chain, depending on what your car needs.