Emergency kits are essential, but most drivers don’t keep one in their cars. Whether the weather calls for sunny blue skies, a rainy dreary day, inches of snow, or something in between, it’s best to be prepared. But what does being prepared mean? How do you stay prepared? We’re glad you asked! We’re here to give you peace of mind. Here’s a list of items you need to keep in your emergency kit in your car and why you need them.
First aid kits are good for keeping you prepared for medical emergencies. This kit doesn’t have to have 2000 or more pieces. You just need the essentials, such as the following items:
- Adhesive bandages
- Adhesive tape
- Roller bandages
- A cold pack
- Rubbing Alcohol
- A needle
If you want to go the extra mile and further prepare, that’s not a problem. Other items you can benefit from include the following:
- Latex gloves
- Safety pins
- Bar soap
- A snake bite kit
- Petroleum jelly
Cell phones are essential in emergencies. If you don’t have USB outlets in your vehicle that allow you to charge your phone, keep a portable charger in your car. We know what you’re thinking. Something fancy like a portable phone charger sounds like a lot of money, right? Not at all! You can purchase a standard portable cell phone charger for $20 or less. There are also advanced portable cell phone chargers that have more features and wattage output, but they are more expensive.
You should have at least one functional flashlight in your emergency kit. More than one flashlight is best, but you need to have at least one. Flashlights are great to have because they allow you to see in the dark. For example, you may get a flat tire at night or need to take a look under the hood, and a flashlight can help you see, even if you aren’t in the dark. Make sure you have a lot of extra batteries on hand to ensure you don’t run out of light.
Water will always be a necessity, especially if you get stranded. Keep at least one case of water in your vehicle Plastic water bottles are best in this scenario because they won’t crack or break as the temperatures change. You need to replace your water bottles every 6 months to ensure you have fresh water readily available.
Make sure you have a jack, tire iron, and a spare tire. Most cars have a space for a spare tire and come with a jack and a tire iron. If not, you can purchase these items without breaking the bank. You’ll want to check your tires every month to ensure your spare tire is full of air and in good condition.
If your vehicle doesn’t have a space for the jack and tire iron, keep it somewhere in your car that isn’t in your way so you can change a tire if you need to. Having a tire gauge will also be beneficial, so you can check the tire pressure. If you need to purchase any of these tools, you can visit your local auto shop or auto repair shop.
If your car battery dies, jumper cables can get you to your destination or to an auto shop to get a new battery. If you don’t want to depend on someone else to save the day, you can purchase a portable jump starter.
Keeping a gas can in your car can be a touchy subject. Some drivers are for it, others aren’t too keen on it. However, if you decide to keep a full gas can in your car, be careful, as gasoline is highly flammable. Ensure the container is sealed tightly to prevent gas leaks. Gas will stay good for about 6 months. If you don’t use all of the gas by then, you must dispose of it properly. You can also keep an empty gas can in your car. Hopefully, there’s a gas station nearby if you run out of gas.
If your vehicle breaks down on the side of the road, a tow strap will be a handy tool to have. Check the top of the strap for the label to ensure it’s the correct size and durability for your vehicle. You will also want to check your vehicle’s manual before you use the tow strap so you damage your vehicle. Tow straps are available at any hardware store, auto supply, or online for $25 or less.
You may be surprised at how beneficial a standard tool kit can be. Whether you have a glove compartment box that’s giving you a hard time, a jammed car door, or something else that needs to be fixed, a standard toolbox can help you make the necessary repairs. You’ll want to make sure you have the following in your standard tool kit:
- Multi-tip screwdriver
- Wrench set
- Wire cutter
- Pair of pliers
If you get caught in the rain, a rain poncho is good to have. Weather can be unpredictable and change suddenly. If you have to brave the elements due to a breakdown or some other type of malfunction, a rain poncho will be your best friend. You can store your rain poncho in your glove compartment to use in the future.
Wearing a reflective vest ensures other drivers can see you if you have to stop on the side of the road for any reason. The reflective material on the vest will reflect off of oncoming headlights, providing an extra layer of safety and peace of mind while you’re on the road. Reflective vests are available online for less than $20.
If your car breaks down at night, road flares will become your best friend. If you are stranded on the side of the road, especially at night, light the flares. Make sure you set the flares 10 to 20 yards behind the boot of your vehicle, so other drivers can see you and be aware there is an emergency, and they won’t drive or park too close to your vehicle. You can also use reflective triangles.
If you reside or are traveling in a location that has cold weather, you’ll want to pack at least 1 layer of warm extra clothing, such as a hat, scarf, coat, and mittens. Depending on how cold it gets, you may want to consider packing 2 of everything, so you can benefit from wearing layers, and a warm blanket.
You may have to clear snow, ice, or slush away from your vehicle if you live in an area that receives a lot of snow or ice during the winter. Ice scrapers have a tool on one end and a snow brush on the other. You can remove stubborn patches of ice with the scraping part of your tool, and clear away piles of snow with the brush.
A foldable metal shovel can also help if you get stuck on snowy terrain. These shovels can be used to clear a path for you or your vehicle. It is illegal in some states to operate a motor vehicle with slush and snow on your vehicle, so if you live in one of these states, make sure you remove snow and slush from your vehicle. Ice scrapers and brushes are available at home improvement stores for $20 or less. You can get a foldable shovel online for about $25.
It’s common for your vehicle to lose traction in icy and snowy conditions. You can use sand or non-clumping cat litter to provide traction for your vehicle. If you get stuck on an icy or snowy road, you can take a handful of non-clumping cat litter or sand in front of the tires.
The texture of the sand or litter can help your vehicle get traction on the ground, and hopefully get you back on the road quickly. If you decide to use cat litter, make sure you buy non-clay, non-clumping cat litter because clay cat litter doesn’t have the correct texture to provide adequate traction for your vehicle.
You can use a battery-powered radio to listen to important safety and weather updates. Make sure you keep fresh batteries on hand. If you get caught in bad weather, you can use the radio to receive an up-to-date weather forecast. You may also want to consider getting a hand-cranked radio. These radios don’t require electricity or batteries for power.
One thing many drivers don’t consider is a fire extinguisher. A small 5 lb. fire extinguisher can help you put out minor fires. Since the fire extinguisher is small, it should easily fit in the back of your car or truck. If there is a major vehicle fire, the first thing you need to focus on is getting out of the car. You need to wait for emergency vehicles to arrive. Don’t try to put the fire out on your own.
It’s not uncommon for vehicles to need minor repairs. Duct tape can help you make quick, minor repairs. Although using duct tape is not a long-term solution for repairs, it can provide a temporary solution to prevent you from being stuck on the side of the road or in the middle of nowhere.
Non-perishable food items, such as energy and granola bars, and canned food are all good to keep in your vehicle. You’ll want to stock up on high-calorie foods and snacks in case you have a roadside emergency. If you have a roadside emergency, it could take hours for help to arrive. In this scenario, you should keep the following foods in your vehicle so you don’t get hungry while you wait:
- Dry cereal
- Dried fruits
- Extra pet food (necessary if you travel with your pets often)
Although phones have GPS, maps are not obsolete. Roads often change, whether they are reconstructed or removed altogether, which GPS doesn’t always register. You can use your phone’s GPS in addition to a map to help you navigate safe travels.
In addition to keeping necessities in your vehicle, you also need to make sure your vehicle is prepared for emergencies. Hire a mechanic to check the following on your vehicle to possibly prevent vehicle emergencies:
- Antifreeze levels
- Battery system
- Ignition system
- Exhaust system
- Fuel and air filters
- Heater and defroster
- Lights and flashing hazard lights
- Windshield wiper equipment
- Washer fluid level
Check out these expert emergency tips that can keep you and your loved ones safe!
- Make sure you keep your car’s gas tank full. Doing so allows you to evacuate your home to a safer place if needed, and it will keep the fuel line from freezing.
- Purchase winter tires and ensure they have enough tread, chains, or studs that are required in your local area.
- Avoid driving in flooded areas. 6 inches of water can cause you to lose control of your vehicle or stall the vehicle. 1 foot of water can make many cars float!
- Be careful of receded floodwaters. Roads that were flooded can become weak and collapse under the weight of your vehicle.
- It may sound bizarre, but if a powerline falls on your car, you are at risk of electrical shock. Stay inside your vehicle until trained personnel can remove the wire(s).
- If your vehicle becomes difficult to control, pull over, stop your car, and set the parking brake.
- If you are experiencing an emergency that can affect the stability of the roadway, avoid overpasses, power lines, bridges, and other hazards.
We hope we’ve given you a great start to creating your emergency car kit. Always stay alert and be aware of your surroundings. Be safe and happy driving!