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Prepare a winter kit for your car

It's worth packing a few essential items in your car's boot to make sure you're ready in case of getting stuck in cold and wintry weather. Here, RAC experts give the lowdown on what to put in your car winter kit.

Ice scraper and de-icer

These are basic items but winter must-haves nonetheless. Legally, you must keep your front and rear windscreen clear of snow and ice before driving.

Don't assume you can rely on your smartphone

A phone light won’t really give you visibility if you’re stuck by the side of country road in winter. A large torch with spare batteries or a wind-up torch which doesn't require battery power is essential for your vehicle.

We also rely heavily on phones and in-built car technology for maps but if you have no battery in your car you may find you are limited with your phone battery too. It’s worth having a paper road atlas in case of diversions or getting lost.

In-car phone charger

And related to both of these – have an in-car phone charger so you can top up your battery even when you’re out and about. But what if you break down somewhere with no phone signal? If you're on the motorway you'll need to locate the nearest emergency phone. On quieter roads, assess the situation - it may be a case of walking to the nearest house or sitting tight and waiting for a passing motorist to stop and help.

Warm clothes and blankets

It's sensible to have some warm clothes to wrap up in case of a breakdown - a big coat, gloves, a spare jumper, hat and gloves.

High visibilty jacket

If you need to leave the vehicle in the dark, it's crucial that you can be seen by other motorists – it could even save your life.

Jump leads

Flat or dead batteries can happen to any car regardless of age and at any time, but in cold weather such problems are far more likely to occur.

Always have a set of jump start cables or jump leads in the car, and here’s some RAC advice on how to jump start a car.

Empty fueI can

In an ideal world you would plan your journey to include fuel stops but sometimes things don’t go to plan. If you find yourself without fuel, it’s essential to have an empty fuel can available.

Food and drink

When setting off on a journey – particularly one in winter – you should take some food and drink provisions. Hot drinks in a flask are also a good idea.

Shovel

Unless the weather is very snowy you shouldn’t usually find deep snow on treated roads, but if you’re driving on smaller roads or there is a snowstorm or blizzard you may be surprised. With a shovel you can dig yourself out

Two reflective warning triangles

A warning triangle is used to warn other motorists that your vehicle has broken down. Ideally you need two - one to position in front of the car and the second at the rear. And you might be surprised how far away they should be placed - the signs should be at least 45 metres away from the vehicle.

Sunglasses

The winter sun can seriously affect the driver’s visibility, creating a glare which makes it difficult to see the road. Always ensure you have a pair of sunglasses to hand.

You can read more in-depth advice about what to put in your winter breakdown kit from RAC.