Winter Roadside Emergency Kit

closeup of man digging up stuck in snow car
Written by Jessika Firmage

The holidays are often some of the busiest travel weekends nation-wide, with many families traveling great distances to spend time with loved ones. This can easily include extreme winter driving conditions.

It’s that time of year again, fires in the wood burning stove, leaves falling from trees, and chai tea. It is also the time of year our family diligently prepares for winter. Living at 7,000 feet elevation can make for some very cold and very stormy weather. Typically, we try to stay home when a storm is on the horizon, but we’ve often been caught by surprise.

While the weather in the city can seem docile, the drive home has often turned into a slick, no-visibility, white-out snowstorm. Since moving to the mountains 10 years ago I am always prepared with a typical roadside emergency kit: jumper cables, flashlight, snacks, water, AAA membership, flares, basic tools, etc. Of course, knowing how to use the jumper cables & tools, is another subject altogether.

Winter adds a whole new variety of needed supplies for emergencies. Thus, every autumn I add extra things to a sturdy plastic bin and put it in the back of the car. Always better safe and warm, than sorry.

Add children into the mix, and you really have a greater responsibility to be prepared for anything. The weather in my state can cause slide offs numbering in the hundreds in just a couple of hours time. Not really a situation I would ever want to be in with my kids, especially unprepared.

It is important to note that just because you are making a 10 minute trip to the grocery store, that the pos-sibility of being stuck on the side of the road for a while doesn’t exist. Bad snow storms can happen in the blink of an eye. Here is a list of some things I make sure I have in the car for the duration of the bad weather months.


  • snow pants for me
  • snow boots for me
  • a shovel
  • a bag of kitty litter, sand, or rock salt for traction
  • waterproof gloves for me
  • mittens for each child
  • a beanie for me and each child
  • extra jacket for each child
  • extra socks for each person
  • solar blankets
  • fleece blankets
  • extra snacks
  • extra water
  • extra diapers/wipes
  • a roll of toilet paper
  • a lighter
  • a coloring book and crayons
  • a couple of children’s books
  • first aid kit
  • a baby carrier in case we need to leave the car and walk

A few important things to keep in mind are; good tires, tire pressure, and to always keep as much gas in the car as possible before hitting the road. If you do experience a slide-off, you can run the heater as necessary to help keep warm.

About the author

Jessika Firmage