If you spend any time in your car, there’s always a chance you’ll encounter an emergency. From having a tire blowout to running out of fuel, you need to be prepared for anything to happen. Having the right equipment on hand can save you from spending hours on the side of the road waiting for help. If you want to avoid being in dangerous situations, make sure you prepare yourself with a car emergency kit.
What Should Be In Your Car Emergency Kits?
Some items should be in your emergency car kit year round. This includes basic supplies such as:
- Jumper cables
- A flashlight with spare batteries
- Traffic cones or safety flares
- Duct tape
- Bottled water and non-perishable snacks
- Cell phone charger
- Small tool kit containing a screwdriver
- Car jack
- Storage containers – Ziploc bags, trash bags, etc.
- First aid kit
- Multi-tool with a glass breaker and seat belt cutter
- Fire extinguisher – rated for automotive use
Winter Car Emergency Kits
Driving in winter weather adds another element of danger to the equation. That’s why you should pack extra gear in your car emergency kits during this time. Equipment should include:
- Cat litter – to provide tire traction if you get stuck
- Snow shovel
- Ice scraper
- Warm clothing items – jackets, hat, gloves, etc.
Summer Car Emergency Kits
In warm weather, you have more things to consider as well. Humidity and heat can take a toll on your car and you. That’s why you should pack:
- Extra coolant
- Car window shades
- Bug repellant
Gadgets for Car Emergency Kits
In today’s technological age, there are plenty of electronic devices that can help you in an emergency. While you might not put them in your car emergency kit, they are still helpful to have in your car. Consider carrying these items with you:
- Jump-starter – these are handy to have and don’t require another vehicle to get you going. Some of them even come equipped with a phone charger and LED light which serves to further help you.
- Navigation system – while many of us now use our phones for navigation, there might be a time when you hit poor cell reception. In those times, having a GPS unit in the car might help you find your way out of a remote location.
- Emergency radio – you won’t want to run your car battery if you are stuck on the side of the road. An emergency radio is a great way to get weather updates during a storm or to find out if something is happening you should know about. Today’s radios tend to come with USB charging and flashlight capability as well.
- Emergency beacons – if you want to warn passing vehicles about your presence, you can increase visibility with an emergency beacon. Modern forms of these reflectors make it easier than ever for people to see you while taking up minimal space in your car.
Additional Items to Consider
Obviously, you don’t have room to carry everything with you, especially if you drive a smaller car. With that said, it’s essential to prepare for as many emergencies as possible by packing everything you can. Depending on how much room you have, you might want to consider stowing these items away with you as well.
- Fluids – it’s vital to have some extra coolant and oil with you. You never know when you’ll need just a little to get you moving again.
- Rain ponchos – you never know when you’ll have to work on your vehicle in a downpour. It’s inevitable that your car will break down in unpleasant conditions.
- Baby supplies – if you have a baby or child, you’ll want to be prepared with extra gear for them just in case you get stuck somewhere. It doesn’t hurt to keep some cards or crayons handy just in case you need to entertain a little one.
- Cash – if the power goes out because of bad weather, you’ll need some money to get gas or other supplies.
- Refillable gas jug – you will need an approved container for fuel.
Storing Your Emergency Items
This is going to be a personal preference. You could put your items in a duffel bag or a plastic container. Harder containers work to protect your supplies better, but they take up more room and tend to be harder to move around.
You’ll have to evaluate how much space you have in your car and what types of items you’ll be storing. Obviously, some items should be kept close at hand, such as a seat belt cutter. If you get stuck in your seatbelt, it will do you no good to have one of these tools in the trunk.
Overall, it makes sense to keep most of the items in your trunk because you won’t need them daily. If you were to get rear-ended, you might not be able to access the trunk unless your rear seat goes through. In this case, you might do better keeping the kit under a backseat, if possible.
Make sure you check on your car emergency kit regularly. You might need to restock items or take out any expired food.
Other Safety Tips
If you want to stay safe on the road, there are some other things you can do to protect yourself. Make sure you always have gas in your tank. This is especially valuable when driving in bad weather.
Another thing you can do is have an inspection of your vehicle before you leave on a trip. A qualified mechanic should look over your car to head off any potential problems before they start.
Make sure you also travel with your doors locked. Don’t make it easy for someone to access your vehicle while you are driving.
Finally, you need to learn the basics of dealing with a car emergency. You should be able to change your own tires and you want to know how to check vital fluids such as the oil. These small tools can help you avoid valuable time waiting for roadside assistance.
If the thought of putting together a car emergency kit seems overwhelming, there are pre-packed kits you can purchase. They might not have everything you want, but it’s a good place to start and reduces the overall hassle.
Even the smallest steps help you to remain safe while driving, and that’s a good start. While you want to think that you’ll never need these items, you don’t want to find yourself without them in an emergency.