When traveling in winter weather across Iowa and the Midwest, it’s a great idea to have a winter weather emergency kit packed in your car in case you become stranded either due to an accident, breakdown, or impassable conditions.

The first place to start is to make sure you have your basics covered. This includes jumper cables, ice scraper, car jack and lug wrench. Make sure all the pieces are there as well! First-aid kits are a must.

It may be unthinkable that anyone would be traveling without a phone charger, but make sure you have one and the proper cords. Even better, an extra battery pack that can power one or multiple charges of your phone can keep you from running down your car’s battery or gas tank is stranded.

Once you make know the basics that are always in your car are squared away, you can start to add winter specific gear. No matter where you’re traveling, in or out of town, make sure you have enough cold weather gear. Hat, gloves, boots and coat, even if you prefer not to drive totally geared up.

A collapsible or fold-able shovel is good to have around new snow in case you get stuck in an intersection or on a side street, and it will save space as well. A tub of kitty litter or sand can help you to gain traction as well in a similar situation. Make sure to have something reflective to place out as well to make a disabled vehicle more visible to oncoming drivers

Flashlights are helpful if your car is disabled, not only to check under the car, but for breakdowns at night as well. Just remember, batteries won’t stand up to the extreme cold, so the flashlight is something to grab on your way out the door, or better yet, pack a rechargable one that can plug into your car, or a hand crank powered one in your kit.

Duct tape and a multi-tool or Swiss Army knife can help make minor or temporary repairs to try to limp your vehicle to safety or a less-precarious position

For longer trips out of town be sure to add blankets in the event you’re stuck in a place where help could be a while, especially if trying to travel in a storm where tow bans are possible and emergency services could be interrupted. Candles are sometimes suggested, but make sure you also have a tin can/coffee can to place them in to contain the flame.

Finally, non-perishable food and bottled water is a good idea for long trips, particularly if a storm is forecast, but be sure to refresh your supply each time, frozen water bottles won’t do you any good!

Winter Weather Emergency Kit Checklist

  • Jumper cables
  • Jack/Lug Wrench
  • Ice Scraper
  • First-aid kit
  • Phone charger/extra battery
  • Cold weather clothing: hat, gloves, coat, boots etc…
  • Blankets
  • Collapsible/fold up shovel
  • Kitty Litter/Sand for traction
  • Reflective triangles/road flares
  • Flashlight (preferable car adaptable recharging or hand crank powered)
  • Multi-tool
  • Duct tape
  • Candles and tin can to use them in
  • Non-perishable food/bottled water (pack at time of trip so it isn’t frozen)