Spencer McKee: Looking to survive the winter? Keep these 16 items in your trunk on the go. | national

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado — Are you ready to hit the roads of Colorado this winter?

The Colorado Department of Transportation has released a list of items travelers should keep in the trunk of their vehicle to make winter driving safer.

I went through and added an explanation of why each item is needed and also found a highly rated option on Amazon to make getting these products as easy as possible.

Here’s what you should have in your trunk this winter:

The essential elements:

— A heavy-duty ice scraper with a snow brush: Keeping these windows clear of snow for visibility is crucial to winter driving safety, as is clearing piled snow from the vehicle before driving. Grab this 2-pack of ice scrapers from Amazon. In this way, there is backup in the event of a breakdown and in the meantime several people can clear the snow, which makes the car move faster. ($20)

— Shovel: During winter travel, a vehicle may need to be excavated in the snow. Be prepared for this moment by keeping a collapsible snow shovel in the trunk. Here’s an option from Amazon that will do the trick. ($30)

— Blankets and a sleeping bag: In the event of a jam or grounding, remaining seated with the vehicle running is not ideal. Not only is this a good way to run out of gas, but it can also lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. Instead, the use of warm diapers is recommended. There are several options, ranging from battery-operated electric blankets to large throws to full-fledged sleeping bags. When stacking the trunk with heating layers, remember that it is better to have too much than not enough. Also be aware that electric blankets can drain a cold car battery. ($20 to $100)

— Gallon of Water: Water is needed for obvious reasons, although it doesn’t have to be kept permanently in the trunk due to freezing. Before going on a winter excursion, pour water into the trunk. This is an item that is probably best bought from a local store rather than Amazon. Better yet – get a jug of water and simply fill it up before departure. For those concerned about water freezing, using an insulated water bottle can help. ($20)

— First aid kit and essential personal medications: Not having the proper first aid equipment can make a bad situation worse. Plan ahead by packing a kit with the essentials, and don’t forget to bring any person-specific medications that may be needed in the event of a grounding. ($20)

– Tire chains: Although chains aren’t necessary for most non-commercial travel in Colorado, it’s not a bad idea to bring them for particularly snowy situations. Chains can be a bit pricey, but are one of the best pulling tools. Be sure to purchase the correct chains for the vehicle they will be used with. ($70 to $100)

— Tow Strap: It’s hard to get towed out of a ditch without a tow strap and it’s never a good idea to rely on a bystander for the right equipment to do the job. Tow straps can be found for less than $50 capable of pulling up to 30,000 pounds of workload. ($25 – $50)

— Jumper cables: Cold weather can kill a car battery quickly, so it’s important to keep jumper cables close by when needed. Energizer offers a popular and affordable version that can be purchased online. Portable power banks can also make it possible to jump a car battery without another vehicle, although they are more expensive.

— Flares or reflectors: When things go wrong, keeping a roadside vehicle visible to other drivers is crucial. Not only can it help to get help, but it can also prevent an accident, especially in poor driving conditions. Kits can be found online that include both flares and emergency lights, as well as other emergency safety items. ($40)

— Battery or Crank Powered Radio: In order to receive important weather alerts in the event of an outage, it is crucial to have a radio that does not drain the car battery. Fortunately, a number of crank-operated options can be found online, many of which can also be used as a power bank to charge a phone. ($30 to $60)

Secondary elements:

— Additional Clothing: These garments can be used for layering or in case the snowmelt wets something. It’s never a bad idea to bring a change of clothes for a long trip – and maybe bring a third pair of gloves and socks.

– Chemical Hand Warmers: Hand warmers that don’t require any sort of battery to recharge can be a game-changer when it comes to staying comfortable in the cold. Don’t expect them to replace gloves, though.

— Non-perishable snacks: With a long shelf life, snacks like granola bars can be a great option for emergency food in the trunk. Even in the event of a short-term stranding, having food available can help maintain a positive mood and mental clarity.

— Non-clumping cat litter or sand: Not only can a heavy bag of cat litter or sand in the trunk add some weight, and therefore traction, to the back of a vehicle, these products can also be used to find some traction in slippery snow. Sometimes freeing a stuck car can be as simple as putting some sand under the tires. Most cat litter that works for this is not environmentally friendly, so sand is recommended.

— A game of cards or board games: you have to find a way to have fun when you’re trapped in a vehicle. A deck of cards should do the trick. Bonus points if you are prepared with a collection of board games.

I’m also going to add another item to this list – a storage container that fits in your trunk. This will vary by vehicle, but you’ll want to have a convenient place to store all your winter gear. Not only will this make it easier to find things in a stressful time, but it will also make summer storage easier.