Surviving the colder months is hard enough without having to fight through rush hour traffic. But commuting is part of the territory for millions of Americans. You’re here because you have to get to work in the wintertime too. Conscientious drivers like yourself follow the popular wintertime driving advice of giving yourself lots of time, staying on main roads, and checking weather forecasts ahead of time.

But winter storms and dangerous driving conditions can catch you off guard. Which is why preparing ahead comes in handy. Today, we’re going to take a look at 10 essential tools to help you survive winter, and be prepared for whatever it throws at your vehicle.

Ice Scraper

It may seem self-evident, but you’d be surprised how many people forget to buy an ice scraper ahead of the winter months. Get a reliable and sturdy ice scraper as soon as possible. And be sure to use it to clean off your car thoroughly. Driving with chunks of snow and ice on your vehicle is a hazard to both you and your fellow drivers.

Winter Tires

Winter tires are your first defense against cold, wet, and slippery driving conditions. They offer the best performance for harsh winter weather conditions and low temperatures. Switching to winter tires in the winter months could even save you as much as 10 percent on your car insurance.1 Enjoy better braking, superior snow maneuverability, and peace of mind by investing in a set of high quality winter tires.

Collapsible Shovel

A sturdy and storage-friendly shovel is worth its weight in gold when you need it. Thankfully, they aren’t as expensive as you’d think. You can get one and store it in your trunk for under $20.2 Be ready to dig yourself out of snow and slush whenever you need to with an easy to store and reliable collapsible shovel.

Extra Clothing

Extra clothing is always a good idea, but it means a lot more in the wintertime. Having an extra sweater, jacket, mitts, and hats at the ready can really come in handy if you find yourself stranded. Storing a warm blanket in your trunk in case of an emergency is wise too. You never know what winter driving may bring, but you can provide yourself with enough tools to handle whatever comes your way.

Phone Charger

You’d be surprised how many people leave home without a working phone charger. You should keep one stored in your vehicle at all times. Your phone could be all you have to protect yourself from being stranded for a dangerous amount of time. It can double as a flashlight too, and can prevent you from getting stranded without a way to call for help. Investing in a charger to keep in your car could be the thing that saves you from a worse situation later on.

Jumper Cables

In truth, you should have jumper cables in your car all year round. They’re easy to store, easy to use, and affordable. Batteries die all the time, so buy a set of jumper cables today, and learn how to use them. They could save you a lot of trouble, or help you save someone else’s day. Either way, investing in a functional set of jumper cables is an absolute must.

External Battery

As essential as jumper cables are, you may find yourself alone and with a dead battery. You aren’t without options! You could pay the price of roadside assistance, or you could pay a few bucks now and be ready for anything. External batteries are cheap, and can help recharge a dead battery in just a couple of minutes.

Cat Litter

Keep a liberal amount of non-clumping kitty litter in your car to help unstick your car from the snow. If your wheels are slipping on slick ice or stuck in deep snow, spreading some kitty litter around your tires may help. The added traction may be the edge your tires need to pull your car out of trouble.3

First Aid Kit

Every vehicle should have a first aid kit. Pre-packaged kits are widely available, affordable, and include most of what you need to address minor accidents and injuries. Basic first aid kits include bandages, cleansing wipes, and painkillers. It’s easy to add-in missing items too. Whatever you do, make sure the first aid kit is stored in a place that’s cool and dry like your trunk or a glove compartment.

Food and Water

As bad as being stranded can be, it’s much worse when you’re thirsty and hungry. Part of your emergency preparation should include a case of water and a collection of non-perishable food items. Plastic water bottles are ideal as they won’t burst when frozen. As for food, a bag of trail mix or a box of granola bars should be more than enough to wait out a few hours until roadside assistance arrives.

Winter Ready

Winter driving can be made easier with a few expertly chosen tools and a little bit of planning. You might never need all those helpful tools stored away in your trunk, but knowing you have them at your disposal can make a huge difference. You don’t necessarily have to spend all day shopping either.

Lots of companies offer roadside safety kits that bundle together a lot of the essential tools mentioned above in a small and convenient package. Search online or in person to find a bundle that meets your needs, and supplement it with additional tools as necessary. You don’t need an emergency kit until you do. You’ll no doubt be thanking your past self should that day come to pass.

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