Car emergencies rarely announce themselves. Since being ill-equipped is undoubtedly scary, the best course of action is to always plan ahead. Car emergency kits are a quick and practical way to keep safe while on the road.
Safety first. Remember learning that as a child? Now that you are an adult, the same lesson still applies. When packing a car emergency kit, take the time to factor in all possible scenarios. Key items include the following:
Jumper cables. Grab a boost from a passing vehicle when your car battery fails.
First-aid kit. Ensure it is well stocked with antiseptic wipes, band aids, scissors, gauze, antibacterial ointment, pain relievers and tape.
Large emergency blanket. Weather is unpredictable. Durable space emergency blankets are available at REI. Lightweight and easy to pack, they excel at keeping the warmth contained.
Work gloves. Emergency repairs often involve grease, oil and warm surfaces. Gloves also protect hands from sharp corners.
Battery operated or wind-up flashlight. When the sun goes down, a flashlight guides the way.
Spare batteries. Keep enough for a full change.
Cash. Stock a small coin purse with $30 in varied denominations.
Fully inflated spare tire and car jack. Periodically check the tire status to ensure no surprises on the road.
Clean rags and garbage bags. These supplies are handy for unexpected spills.
Multipurpose tool. Several tools in one device allow for easy repairs. Leatherman offers several high-quality options with a practical design.
Disposable camera. Do not rely on a cell phone camera for documenting accidents or locations.
Pen and paper. Sometimes you need to jot down vital information.
Rain gear. Ponchos and rain suits keep you dry when the weather and your car misbehave.
Electrical and duct tape. Heavy duty tape is perfect for quick fixes.
Reflective emergency road sign. If you are stranded, alert other drivers with a sign.
With all safety items accounted for, human nutrition and personal needs are next. Do not be caught unprepared. A proper car emergency kit contains the following:
Food. Sealed granola bars, energy bars, crackers, fruit cups or trail mix provide nourishment and energy when faced with an emergency situation.
Water. Store adequate water for all passengers. Change out the bottles regularly since plastic bottles release chemicals when exposed to heat. Water is also useful for an overheated radiator.
Toilet paper. Bathroom emergencies are a category all their own. Do not leave home unprepared.
Alcohol wipes. Clean hands in a jiffy with packaged wipes.
Seasonal travel has specific needs. Winter travel in particular requires extra attention; to ensure all bases are covered, properly account for ice, cold temperatures and snow-covered roads. Factor in the following items:
Windshield ice scraper
Antifreeze and wiper fluid
Extra person-size blankets
Tarp and cord
Sand for ice
Whether out for an hour or on route to an extended trip, be prepared for any type of car emergency. Pack a fully stocked car emergency kit to keep stress at a minimum. With the correct items safely stowed, car trouble is just an inconvenience.