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Essential items to keep in your car in case of winter emergency

Don't idle to warm up your car; here's why
Posted at 7:40 PM, Jan 05, 2022

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Missourians and Kansans are no strangers to winter weather, but even old pros need reminders about winter weather safety.

The importance of being prepared for an emergency became even more evident this week when a winter storm and several crashes caused a massive backup on Interstate 95 in northern Virginia, leaving hundreds of people stranded in their cars, some for more than 24 hours.

AAA has a list of items everyone should have in their cars in case of emergency:

  • Cell phone and car charger
  • Blanket, gloves and hat. For heat, AAA recommends running the car for about 10 minutes every hour but keeping it off the rest of the time to avoid running out of gas. Make sure the exhaust pipe is clear of snow and ice when the car is running to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Water and snacks. Nonperishable food items, like granola bars or beef jerky, are recommended. Make sure there is enough food and water for everyone in the car, including any pets.
  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight. Make sure to have extra batteries.
  • Car emergency warning devices. For example: road flares or reflectors. These can help alert first responders and other drivers to a car on the side of the road.
  • A basic set of tools
  • Tarp and raincoat
  • Jumper cables or a jump pack
  • Shovel
  • Traction aid. For example: salt, sand or nonclumping cat litter. When placed behind tires, these help the tires gain traction on the ground to accelerate out of a snowbank or sheet of ice.
  • Ice scraper and snow brush