Making a Vehicle Emergency Pack
Written By: Bonnie Gringer
Anyone who gets behind the wheel of a car must be aware of road safety, as well as their responsibility to always practice safe driving. Road safety includes practices and behaviors that reduce the risk of injury or death from driving-related incidents. Obeying the speed limit is one of the most basic aspects of driving safety. Speeding can increase the risk of an accident by causing drivers to lose control of their vehicles and by increasing a car’s stopping distance. It may also result in more severe crashes and life-threatening injuries. Another major threat to one’s safety comes from distracted driving, such as texting. The time it takes a person who is driving 55 mph to look away from their phone and send a text equals the amount of time it takes to drive the length of a football field. During that time the risk of getting into an accident will increase. Carrying an emergency pack in one’s car is also an important part of road safety, as it helps keep vehicle occupants safe in the event of an accident or if stranded. To get the most benefit from a car emergency pack it’s important to know what to carry in it. In the event of an emergency or general roadside situation, it also helps to know who to call. In most every state, drivers can call 911 for emergency assistance. Depending on the state where the driver lives, there may also be special cellphone contact numbers to use in the event of a non-emergency situation, like when a vehicle breaks down.
An emergency car pack should be carried inside the vehicle at all times and updated according to the season or one’s travel plans. Drivers should use a sturdy bag, such as a waterproof duffel bag or camping backpack with pockets and compartments to separate and hold items securely. Basic emergency supplies include jumper cables and reflective triangles that can be used at night or during low visibility conditions to warn oncoming vehicles of a stalled or broken down vehicle. A tire gauge, tire sealant or plug kit, and a portable compressor should also be included. A fire extinguisher, extra coolant, and oil are also important. An emergency radio and a flashlight with extra batteries, are all necessary items.
Cell phones are crucial in emergencies, but they must remain charged to be useful. Stow a spare car charger in the pack to ensure that there’s a way to call out for help if needed. Other items may include a first aid kit, bottled water and non-perishable snacks. In the event that a person should find themselves stranded in cold weather or for a lengthy period, the kit should also include a wool or a space blanket. Gloves, a hooded poncho, boots, and a small umbrella are also useful items to include in one’s emergency pack during the cold-weather months.
For small repairs, drivers should keep a small toolkit in their vehicle. This can be a purchased kit or an assembled collection of basic tools, such as an adjustable wrench, screwdrivers, and pliers. Other useful items include duct tape and absorbent material, such as a small bag of cat litter. Stocked emergency kits can safely be stored in the vehicle’s trunk.
For more information on road safety and making vehicle emergency packs, click any of the links below.
- State by State Cellphone Highway Emergency Assistance Numbers
- Auto Emergency Preparedness Kit Checklist (PDF)
- Popular Mechanics: The Ultimate Survival Preparedness Kit For Your Car
- Thirteen Things You Need In Your Winter Car Survival Kit
- What to Pack in Your Emergency Kit
- What Emergency Supplies Should I Keep In My Car
- What Needs to be in Your Car Emergency Kit
- Driving Safe: Five Things to Keep in Your Car in Case of an Emergency
- A Safety Kit for the Road
- Emergency Kit for Your Vehicle (PDF)
- Vehicle Emergency Checklist (PDF)
- What Should You Keep In the Car
- Basic Car Kits and Vehicle Preparation (PDF)
- Stranded in a Winter Storm – Be Prepared With an Emergency Car Kit
- Roadside Emergency Kit Checklist (PDF)
- Emergency Car Kit Brochure (PDF)
- What’s in Your Car? Create Your Own Roadside Emergency Kit
- Emergency Gear for the Car (PDF)
- Car Safety Kit
- What to Carry in Your Roadside Emergency Kit
- Building a Supply Kit for Your Family
- Gather Supplies: Go Bag and Emergency Supply Kit
- Car Safety
- Winter Driving – Car Emergency Kit
- USDOT Releases 2016 Fatal Traffic Crash Data