Winter Driving: tips on what to pack in your car’s emergency safety kit


Before hitting the road, you have to make sure you have a few essentials. Everyone knows that certain items are a must, like a driver’s license or shoes. But what about the essentials that aren’t legally required but could make a world of difference should you run into a problem?

Picture this: you’re happily driving down the road when your car decides to unexpectedly break down. You manage to pull over to the side of the street, but your car dies shortly after. It’s cold, you have no heat, and you’re starting to get hungry.

Luckily, there’s an easy way to avoid this situation, or at least make sure you’re not cold and hungry while it’s happening. That’s where a driver’s emergency roadside safety kit comes in, which can be easily stored in the trunk of your car. But what should you keep in your kit or the kits inside your company cars? We have just a few suggestions.

The basics

Drivers can customize their kits for their own particular needs, but there are a few items that may come in handy if your car breaks down or you find yourself in an accident:

  • A tow rope or chain
  • Booster cables
  • Fuel line antifreeze
  • A small tool kit
  • A fire extinguisher

During the winter

When the weather cools down, it’s all the more dangerous to be stranded in your car. That’s not to say you shouldn’t have a kit prepared in the summer, but with freezing cold temperatures to combat in the winter, it’s especially important to have some items prepared to keep you warm. Here are a few items that could come in handy should you be trapped in a snowstorm:

  • A first aid kit
  • Band-aids
  • Bottled water
  • Energy bars
  • Roadmaps
  • Gloves
  • Matches
  • A blanket
  • Extra clothing and footwear
  • Emergency food (non-perishable, such as canned fruit, nut, candy, etc.)
  • A can opener and a pocket knife
  • A candle and a deep can to place it in when it’s lit

It’s also a good idea to keep a fully-charged mobile phone in the car with you at all times so that you can call someone if you’re stranded. And consider placing a shovel in your trunk so that if you’re ever stuck in deep snow or there’s an excess of ice buildup on your windshield, you can deal with it easily.

To alert rescuers 

It can’t hurt to have the necessary equipment to make sure you get help when you need it, so that you can get out of that sticky situation quickly. In order to do this, you could pack the following items:

  • Road flares or warning lights
  • Bright cloth to use as a flag
  • A “call police” sign
  • A flashlight and extra batteries

And don’t forget to drive responsibly

The emergency roadside safety kit may not even be necessary if you don’t get into an accident. A number of accidents can be prevented by simply driving responsibly once you’re on the road.

As basic as it sounds, driving slowly in the snow can make a world of difference. It’s important to always be aware of your surroundings, to never use cruise control if conditions are snowy, icy, or wet, and to signal ahead of time to give the vehicle behind you plenty of notice.

One should also avoid tailgating — and no, we don’t mean the kind that occurs before football games over food and beverages. Since it can take longer to stop on a slippery road, driving too close behind other vehicles can be dangerous.

While you can easily follow these guidelines when you’re driving your car, you can’t be sure that your employees do so when they drive company cars. In order to combat this, consider instituting a driver policy, which reinforces the standards you expect employees to follow when using company cars.

© Federated Insurance Company of Canada. All rights reserved.

This document is provided by Federated Insurance Company of Canada (“Federated”) for informational purposes only to augment your own internal safety, compliance and risk management practices, and is not intended as a substitute for assessment or other professional advice by a qualified person or entity.

Federated makes no representations or warranties regarding the accuracy or completeness of the information contained in this document. Federated shall not be responsible in any manner for any loss, or any direct, indirect, consequential, special, punitive or other damages, arising out of your, or any other person’s, use or reliance on the information contained in this document.

Article Written By Reza Kamrani

REZA KAMRANI is the Account Representative for Associations at Federated Insurance.


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