It doesn’t matter if you want to be prepared for getting caught in a blizzard on the way home from work or you’re planning for a 500-mile bugout in your car: You need to have your vehicle prepared and ready for anything that mother nature is going to throw at you.
Ensuring your vehicle is winter-ready and having a well-packed winter emergency kit can make all the difference when facing these challenges. What’s more, the best place for your bugout bag is in your car. Why? Because if you have to shelter in place, you can just go out to your car. If you have to bug out well… you’re going to have to go to your car.
Your car itself should also be ready to have to undertake a potentially arduous journey at a moment’s notice. Few things are going to be more frustrating and potentially terrifying than having to bug out and realizing that you forgot some minor, but important, part of getting your car ready to weather the winter roads.
Winterize Your Vehicle
Your journey to safety, be it from work or away from a disaster affecting where you live is going to begin with properly winterizing your vehicle. For most people this is the type of thing they plan to do, never get around to doing and conveniently forget every year because “nothing ever happens.”
For the prepared family, however, this is an absolute must. You have to have your car ready to go at a moment’s notice because, as a prepper or survivalist, you know that just because it’s always been safe where you live doesn’t mean that it will be safe there tomorrow – or even in ten minutes.
Here are some ways to get your vehicle ready for the winter:
- Winterize Your Tires: Invest in winter tires. This will improve your traction and control on snow and ice. What’s more, these tires are designed for greater flexibility in colder temperatures. You don’t need to be escaping disaster for this to save your life.
- Battery Inspection: Batteries are not fans of cold weather. Ensure it’s in good condition. Most chain auto supply stores will test your battery for free and do free installs on new batteries. You should always have a set of jumper cables or, even better, a jump box in the event that you need to bug out.
- Antifreeze and Coolant: Checking your antifreeze levels is something else you should just be doing anyway. In the winter months, it’s absolutely crucial. It takes two minutes and can save your car over the long run.
- Wiper Blades and Fluid: Winter is the perfect time to replace your blades. Change them out for something winter-specific and change out your wiper fluid for something that’s going to work during the winter months.
- Snow Chains or Traction Mats: For people who live in areas with heavy snowfall and high-grade roads, this might be the most important thing on our list. Keep your snow chains and traction mats in the trunk in case you need them to get through some seriously deep snow.
- Oil Change: Go get an oil change before the cold weather comes in. Ask if they have a lower-viscosity oil that can keep your engine well-lubricated during the colder temperatures.
- Engine Block Heater: An engine block heater in the trunk of your car can be a lifesaver. Even if it doesn’t save your life it can make your cold starts easier and also increase the fuel efficiency of your vehicle – and who doesn’t want increased fuel efficiency?
Winter Emergency Kit Essentials
Remember what we said about keeping your bugout bag in your car? That’s a great idea. But you should also have some basic emergency essentials in your car, even if you don’t have a bugout bag. You never know when you might even, say, break down and be stuck somewhere in the cold for potentially hours because you’re one of approximately 10,000 people who have called in about your winter breakdown.
Here are some things that no car should be without during the winter months:
- Shovel: Keep a compact folding snow shovel in your trunk. You can use that to dig your way out of snowbanks or even just clear a path when needed.
- Flashlight and Extra Batteries: A reliable flashlight, along with a spare set of batteries or three, can help you to navigate the outdoors if you have to abandon your car, or even signal for help.
- Blankets and Warm Clothing: If you take no other piece of advice from this article, you should listen to us here: You need to have extra blankets, warm gloves, hats, and jackets in the event that you are stuck inside your car for an extended period of time, can’t run the engine and need to stay warm.
- Non-Perishable Food and Water: Likewise, non-perishable food and water (preferably with high calories and high protein) can keep you fed and hydrated in the event that you end up stranded.
- First-Aid Kit: A basic first-aid kit with bandages, antiseptic wipes, and essential medications is a must for any vehicle.
- Fire-Starting Tools: You never know when you might have to start a fire. So keep some waterproof matches, lighters, and fire-starting materials in your car in the event that you find yourself needing a fire.
- Basic Tools: A multi-tool, a knife, and some basic tools like a wrench or pliers can really come in handy if you break down.
- Sand or Kitty Litter: This is a little trick almost everyone who lives in a cold weather environment knows. Sand and kitty litter can give you the extra traction you need to get out of the snow if you find yourself stuck
- Road Flares or Reflective Triangles: These can be extremely helpful in keeping you safe on the side of the road or, in an emergency, signaling assistance.
- Communication Devices: Always charge your cell phone in your car if you can. Keeping a two-war or CB radio can be another way for you to contact emergency services if you don’t have a cell phone or your phone dies.
With just a little preparation and maintenance – some of which you should be doing anyway – your car will be ready to weather whatever the weather throws at it. It doesn’t matter if it’s a snowstorm on the way home from work or a total collapse of human civilization: your car will be ready to get you from point A to point B
What are some things we left out that you wouldn’t go without in your car? What’s the one item everyone serious about survival needs to keep in their car? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.