10 unexpected items that can help you during a blizzard

Stay safe during blizzards.

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Stay safe during blizzards.
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Brian Snyder/Reuters

Aside from obvious emergency kit necessities like food, water, and first aid supplies, some everyday items can be surprisingly helpful in a blizzard too.

Insider spoke to the American Red Cross about how to stay safe during winter storms using objects you probably already have on hand.

Here are 10 unexpected items that can be useful in winter weather.


If ATMs and credit card readers shut down during a winter storm, you’ll be glad to have cash at the ready.

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Keep cash just in case.
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Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

“In a major emergency, oftentimes ATMs won’t be working and stores won’t accept credit cards, so it’s good to have extra cash on hand,” Michael de Vulpillieres, communications officer for the American Red Cross, told Insider.


According to the Red Cross, home fires spike during the coldest months of the year due to various heating methods. Fire extinguishers are important year-round, but especially during the winter.

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Make sure you know how to use your fire extinguisher.
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Shutterstock

“At the Red Cross, we see some major fires during extreme weather events like blizzards,” de Vulpillieres said. “You want to be careful when you’re heating your home, because there are certain fire risks.”

He recommends exercising caution while using candles, fireplaces, and space heaters, which are often the cause of fires. Space heaters in particular should be placed on a flat, hard surface at least 3 feet from anything flammable. And never use your oven to heat your home.


Newspapers and maps can be used as insulation if you’re stuck in your car.

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Newspapers can help you keep warm.
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Billion Photos/Shutterstock

Crumple the papers and stuff them under clothes to keep warm, de Vulpillieres said.


Sand can be used to increase traction if your car gets stuck in the snow.

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Sand in snow.
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Arthur_Shevtsov/Shutterstock

Sand can help the tires move on slippery ice and snow.


Cat litter does wonders for tire traction, as well.

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Cat litter.
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iStock

If you happen to have some in your car, it’s worth using to get unstuck.


Floor mats in cars can also be used to increase traction.

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A car floor mat near the gas and brake pedals.
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Aleksandr Kondratov/Shutterstock

The mats can be placed under the tires to keep them from slipping.


If you have none of these in your car, find a nearby pine tree and sprinkle the needles in the snow.

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Pine trees.
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Creative Touch Imaging Ltd./NurPhoto via Getty Images

In a pinch, pine needles and sticks can increase traction.


Rocks can also be useful to get a car out of a snowbank.

Adding weight to a car by pushing down on the hood or placing rocks on top of it can help increase traction when attempting to drive out of snow. Pulling a car out of a ditch is the most effective way to move it, de Vulpillieres said.

“In snow, it’s better to pull than to push,” he said.


Cooking spray has multiple uses during snowy weather.

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Cooking spray.
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Arina P Habich/Shutterstock

Cooking spray can be used to keep car doors from freezing shut by spraying the corners. Spraying your snow shovel can also keep snow from sticking to it.


Credit cards can be used to scrape ice and snow off a windshield.

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Credit cards.
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Joe Raedle/GettyImages

If you don’t have a snow brush or an ice scraper in your car, the edges of a credit card can get the job done.