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15 Items For Your Winter Emergency Car Kit

December 10, 2023

Winter in Washington is nothing short of a winter wonderland, with snow-capped mountains, lush forests, and picturesque landscapes. But it’s also a season that demands vigilance and preparedness, especially when traveling on the state’s roads. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, ensuring your safety during the winter months is paramount. One of the best ways to do this is by having a well-equipped emergency car kit. We’ve compiled a list of essential items to include in your emergency car kit when traveling during the winter in Washington.

Winter travel can be tough on car and driver, before hitting the road be sure to take these steps to ensure your car is ready for winter, road-tripping conditions.

  1. Check your tires and make sure your chains fit before the first winter storm and check tire pressure during cold weather. Remember, tire shops and mechanics are busiest just before and during winter storms.
  2. Get a vehicle winter maintenance check-up. Don’t wait to check your battery, belts, hoses, radiator, lights, brakes, heater/defroster and wipers.
  3. Keep your fuel tank full. Don’t let it fall below half a tank on winter trips.
  4. Program your radio for traffic reports and emergency messages (for WSDOT radio: 530 and 1610 AM).

Click here to learn more about winter safety.

Weather in the Pacific Northwest can change quickly. From sunny mornings to blizzard conditions in the afternoon. It is important that should you get caught in a storm, experience vehicle issues, or any other unforeseen circumstance that leaves you parked, it is imperative that your car be equipped with the necessities to help keep you safe.


1. Blankets or Sleeping Bags

When winter takes hold in Washington, the temperatures can plummet quickly. In the event that you become stranded or face an unexpected delay, blankets or sleeping bags will be your best friend. These items provide much-needed warmth and insulation, helping to stave off the cold and keep you comfortable.

2. Winter Clothing

Layering is key to staying warm during a Washington winter. Pack extra winter clothing, including warm hats, gloves, scarves, and insulated jackets. Choose clothing that is suitable for extreme cold, as well as moisture-wicking to keep you dry.

3. Non-Perishable Food

Having a stash of non-perishable food is vital in case you get stuck in your car. High-energy snacks like energy bars, nuts, and dried fruits can keep your energy up. Additionally, carry canned foods and a manual can opener for more substantial sustenance.

4. Water

Carry a supply of bottled water or a method to melt snow for drinking. Staying hydrated is crucial in cold weather, and having access to water can be a lifesaver if you’re stranded.

5. First Aid Kit

A comprehensive first aid kit is a must-have in your emergency car kit. Ensure it contains bandages, antiseptic wipes, pain relievers, and any medications you may need. Being prepared for minor injuries or illnesses can make a significant difference in an emergency situation.

6. Flashlights

Short winter days mean longer nights. Include flashlights in your kit, and don’t forget to pack extra batteries. A headlamp can also be invaluable, as it allows for hands-free operation when you need it most.

7. Jumper Cables

Cold weather can be hard on your car’s battery. Jumper cables can help you or a fellow traveler get back on the road if your battery dies unexpectedly.

8. Shovel

A small, collapsible shovel can prove invaluable if you need to dig your car out of snow. This simple tool can make a big difference when you’re stuck.

9. Ice Scraper and Brush

Keep your windows and lights clear of ice and snow. An ice scraper and brush will help you maintain visibility and stay safe on the road.

10. Traction Aids

Sand, kitty litter, or traction mats can be a game-changer if your vehicle gets stuck in the snow. These materials provide added grip to help your tires gain traction.

11. Tire Chains

Tire chains might be necessary, depending on your route and the road conditions. Familiarize yourself with how to install them before you hit the road.

12. Tow Rope

In case you find yourself in need of a tow, a sturdy tow rope can save the day. It’s an essential item for winter travel safety.

13. Emergency Flares or Reflective Triangles

Make your vehicle visible to other drivers, especially in low-visibility conditions like heavy snow or fog. Emergency flares and reflective triangles can help ensure that you’re seen on the road.

14. Car Phone Charger

A charged phone is your lifeline to communication in an emergency. Make sure you have a car phone charger to keep your device powered up.

15. Whistle

In situations where you need to attract attention, a whistle can be a powerful tool. It carries farther than your voice and can alert rescuers to your location.

Click here to download your WSDOT PDF Checklist

Winter travel in Washington offers the promise of stunning landscapes and memorable experiences, but it also presents potential hazards. Having a well-prepared emergency car kit can make all the difference in ensuring your safety and well-being during your journey. By including these essential items in your kit, you’ll be better equipped to handle any unexpected challenges that may arise while traveling through the beautiful yet unforgiving winter landscapes of Washington. Stay safe, stay prepared, and embrace the winter wonderland with confidence. For more Winter Safety Tips, click here.

While we welcome you to enjoy our beautiful outdoors this winter, we ask that you do so safely.

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