Make sure not to head out without an ice scraper this winter.

6 items to keep in your car this winter

It's the season for long-sleeve shirts, wool sweaters, and heavy coats, but everyone is wondering: What does the winter have up its sleeves over the next several months?

Only Mother Nature holds the answer. What you don't have to wonder about is the fact that there's bound to be messy traffic conditions, caused by slippery roads and wintry mixes. Some of these may wind up causing batteries to freeze or tires to skid. It's times like these that emergency items should be at the ready.

The following are some of the things to keep in your car for when car problems pile up like mounds of snow:

Heavy blanket

The car's heating system keeps you and your passengers warm during the cold season, but don't count on warmth if your engine dies or the ignition won't turn over. Keep a heavy blanket in the trunk so you can ride out the storm in comfort or at least until help arrives. You may also want to include some extra caps, mittens, and scarves.

Cellphone

Help is only a phone call away, which is why you should have a cellphone readily available. Be sure to also have a spare charger so that you can charge it if the batteries are running low.

Sand or kitty litter

Winter tires are custom designed to cut through snow and ice so that they grip the road better than all-weather tires. However, even the best winter tires in the world aren't immune to skidding. Should you go off the road, getting stuck in a snowbank, having some sand or kitty litter can provide your tires with the grip it needs to get out. You should also have a shovel if snow removal is required.

Food and water

You never know when things might go bad, so you'll want to ensure that you have a source of sustenance if you find yourself stranded. Energy bars or trail mix keep well and are easily storable. You should also have a bottle of water on standby.

Winter weather tools

They're fairly basic in their function, but simple tools like scrapers and brushes enable you to clean off your windshield during snowfall, or any other time that you're away from the car for an extended period.

User manual

Every car comes with a user manual, but few – if any – actually read it. You may have standard functions in your car that are specifically geared for winter weather. Familiarize yourself with the manual's contents so you know what things will come in handy when you're in a pickle. The National Safety Council has a great new website that delves into car safety features.

You may not know what the storm will bring, but at the very least, you can be prepared for what's to come. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has several other suggestions on how to be loaded for bear when the cold winds blow.