Really useful things to keep in your car in winter

By Kathy Lawrence, co-founder of, the web service helping people to help their ageing parents

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The great and gruesome thing about the British climate is its wonderful variety. One winter we’ve frozen into our homes for weeks and the next we’re flooded out of them. One summer we’re forbidden to use hosepipes in the garden and the next our roses are under a foot of water.

Red CarWe know how hard it is for public transport to plan for every eventuality. It’s mind-boggling for the driver too. So here are a few ideas that we’ve gleaned from the experts for stuff to take with you to help you through the joys of ice, snow, rain, fog and more. Not to mention the recent flooding!

The standard advice is not to travel unless you really need to. But if bad weather isn’t putting you off setting out, then don’t let it deter you from doing the usual checks – air, water, oil, tyres and the right mix of screen wash. And make sure you can direct hot air to your windscreen.

Remember to check the traffic reports before you leave and if you have any sort of smartphone or tablet find a useful web service or app that will keep you updated on the move. Good satnavs will help with traffic holdups too.

There are some items that are good to keep in the car right through winter:
  • De-icing kit. Purists seem to prefer scrapers but sprays work too
  • A shovel to dig yourself out of a hole, or maybe to dig a hole in a personal emergency
  • Tow rope and something to put under the wheels if you’re stuck in a rut
  • Hazard warning triangle because every little helps
  • Reflective yellow jackets. This and the triangle are required if you’re driving in many countries along with your own breath testing kit
  • A blanket or two if you’re going to be sitting around for a while in the cold
  • A first aid kit that is more than a couple of decade-old bandages and some scissors
  • A torch with working batteries
  • A cloth to wipe over your headlights, mirrors and other lights at regular intervals, especially in snow and ice
Once you’ve got that sorted, here’s another list of stuff to take on each journey:
  • A change of clothes
  • Emergency rations including a hot drink and energy bars
  • Waterproof boots
  • A mobile phone – fully charged – that you know how to use
  • The number of your breakdown service
  • Enough petrol to get you there

Once you’ve packed the car, then it’s just a matter of travelling safely. This could require some skill. You can find more advice about driving in bad weather on the WhenTheyGetOlder web site.

The Really Useful Stuff team would like to thank Kathy for writing this fantastic blog for RUS. Don’t forget to get kitted out for Winter driving and stay safe!

You can find some more ‘really useful stuff’ for getting our and about in our online shop here.