Be Ready Utah: What you need in your emergency winter car kit

Nov 29, 2022, 6:30 PM | Updated: Dec 2, 2022, 11:13 am

A motorist drives through the snow in Olympus Cove in Salt Lake County. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret...

A motorist drives through the snow in Olympus Cove in Salt Lake County. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — You are late for an appointment. An overnight winter storm dropped 4 inches of wet and heavy snow. You are spinning your wheels. You are stuck in your car and mutter to yourself, “I should have been prepared.”

Wade Mathews, Utah Division of Emergency Management — Be Ready Utah, joins KSL NewsRadio’s Dave & Dujanovic with Dave Noriega and Debbie Dujanovic to discuss the essentials every driver needs in their car to be prepared for a winter emergency.

Stay safe, stay warm in your car in winter

Mathews said before you even get inside your car, be sure you’re dressed for the winter weather. Wear gloves and have boots ready in case you have to push a car out of a snowbank.

“After that, you want to make sure you’ve got a blanket, a sleeping bag, maybe a mylar reflective blanket even. You want to be prepared for providing warmth to yourself if you’re stuck for a while or out in the cold for a long period,” he said.

If you are stuck in a rural area, have inside your vehicle food and water, including snacks that won’t perish, such as jerky, dried fruit, granola, nuts and crackers, Mathews said.

“I think there is a false sense of security if you go off on I-15 in a relatively busy little area, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the tow trucks are going to get to you quickly. You might be there for a couple hours,” Dave said.

Winter essentials for your car

  • When cold weather hits, have a sturdy ice scraper and snow brush in your vehicle.
  • Make sure your cellphone is charged before you begin your journey. Have a cellphone charger in the car.
  • Stock a first-aid kit in your vehicle year round, but in winter especially since response times may be slowed by weather.

Shovel your way out

Mathews reminded motorists to have a shovel to dig yourself out. And have at the ready coarse materials to place under tires for traction.

“If you’re in a situation where you can’t get out, have a container of ice melt or sand or cat litter that you can put under the tires to give you some traction. . . . Even a small folding shovel — keep that in the trunk — like these little camp shovels . . . to dig your way out and down to some solid ground and get yourself some traction again,” he said.

If you are digging out and your hands become cold and wet, keep hand warmers in your glovebox, Mathews recommended.

Be ready at night

“For nighttime, you want to be prepared with signaling — some safety signals like flares or little [reflective] triangles,” he said.

Also, carry inside the vehicle a working flashlight. 

“In this cold weather, batteries are always weak and don’t hold a charge as well so jumper cables are a good thing to have,” Mathews advised.

Related reading



Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play. 

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Be Ready Utah: What you need in your emergency winter car kit