1. Blanket and Gloves/Hats
This is the first thing that every car should have. If you have to change a tire or put on a new serpentine belt in the cold, having a pair of gloves and warm clothes is important. It is also good to have these items for your passengers. If the heater stops for any reason, your passengers will need to be kept warm while you deal with the emergency. A rain poncho and boots can come in handy as well.
2. Flashlight and Extra Batteries
Regardless of the emergency, having a flashlight can help solve any nighttime problem. From trying to find something under the seat to changing a tire, having the ability to see what you are doing is invaluable. Also, don’t forget extra batteries for your flashlight/extra radio/tire inflator. Having the batteries to keep everything in working order is vital!
3. Folding Shovel and Scraper
Having a scraper in your car for winter is obvious, but it is always good to have an extra one. Some of them are poorly made can easily break. Also, having differing designs will allow you to use one for its better scraper and another for its brush attachment. Having a shovel can help dig you out if you get stuck. They can also come in handy if you return home a to snow-covered driveway. Shovels can be purchased in different designs from ones that fold to others that have retractable handles.
4. Flat Tire Kit
Most cars carry a spare onboard, but do you have the tools to change the tire? Also, it is important to keep some sort of inflation device and sealant. You never know what kind of problem you will encounter with tires. Whether you need to patch it or change it, the necessary tools will make or break the operation.
5. Jumper Cables
This one is actually important to have in the vehicle year-round, but it is especially important during winter time. Nobody wants to be caught in the cold with a drained battery.
6. Safety Vest and Reflective Triangle/Road Flares
Depending on where you live, the number of safety items that you carry in your car may need to be larger. A reflective triangle lets approaching vehicles know to use caution, but it may be better to use road flares if you are in a storm or on a winding road. The reflective safety vest makes you more visible to other vehicles as well and should be worn in any emergency situation where you need to get out of your vehicle on the roadside. Having a few orange cones in your vehicle isn’t a bad idea either.
7. Tool Kit
You would be surprised how useful it is to have a basic toolkit. Having screwdrivers, hand-pliers, a utility knife, a pocket tool, etc. can help you with any emergency. With everything being frozen, basic maintenance tasks can become difficult and the leverage of tools becomes important. You can also keep some other basic items like fuses, clean rags, and a tire gauge in your kit too.
8. First Aid Kit
This one should really be number one on this list. Every vehicle should have a basic first aid kit all of the time regardless of what season it is. Make sure to carry a large variety of items too. It is better to have a wide variety of items for different situations than it is to have one large box of Band-Aids.
9. A Tow Rope
You never know when you are going to need a tow in the snow. Make sure the rope is long enough (12-feet is plenty). Also, when purchasing a rope, check to see the weight capacity of the rope. 4500-6500 pounds should be fine depending on the size of your vehicle.
10. Non-Perishable Food
For most people, eating is not a priority in the middle of an emergency. However, emergencies can sometime last longer than one might think. Having food on-hand can be necessary if things take longer than you expected. Your passengers might also appreciate having it while you are solving the emergency.
Many of the items listed above can be found in your local hardware store. If you have difficulty finding some of these items, check in military/government surplus stores. Hopefully you will never have to use any of these items, but it is important to be prepared if some emergency should happen. As they say, “Better Safe than Sorry!”