The Essential Guide to Car Emergency Kits

Written by Bonnie Gringer

Flat tires, car accidents, dead batteries, and extreme weather conditions are all potential causes of an automotive emergency. During an emergency, drivers are typically unable to operate their vehicles, which can leave them stuck on the side of the road. These situations are often unpredictable and can happen to even the most careful drivers. During long road trips, drivers and their passengers may find themselves stranded for hours before help arrives. Smart drivers prepare for unexpected situations by creating and keeping an emergency roadside kit in their vehicles. A car kit should be packed with items that are immediately useful in an emergency situation, whether it is to keep a person safe or to help make minor fixes that are necessary to get the car temporarily back on the road. Roadside kits can be tailored to suit specific seasonal needs, as some items are not necessary year-round. Regardless of the season, it’s important for drivers to pack their kits with basic items that could be needed in an emergency situation.

Cell phone and cell phone charger: A charged cell phone is a must to be prepared for any automotive emergency. For that reason, it’s important to carry a cell phone car charger in one’s emergency kit, especially when traveling long distances or in bad weather conditions.

Jumper cables: There are times when the charged battery from one car can jump-start the seemingly dead battery of another. To do this, a car owner should know how to use jumper cables and store them in their vehicle for emergencies.

Road flares: Using road flares makes vehicles more visible to approaching cars, particularly when in poor visibility conditions. Roadside reflectors or hazard triangles are also an option.

Flashlight: When stranded at night, a flashlight is crucial for security, changing tires, or simply checking the vehicle over for any damage. The flashlight should be weatherproof for use in rain or snow. Drivers should also include spare flashlight batteries in their car kit.

Non-perishable food: Depending on how far a person is traveling and the weather conditions, it can be some time before help arrives. Sustenance in the form of non-perishable food and water can help stave off hunger and keep energy levels up. When selecting the right type of food, consider items such as energy bars or raisins.

Fire extinguisher: In the event of a vehicle fire, it can be helpful to keep a portable fire extinguisher on hand. The fire extinguisher kept in the car kit should be rated for class B or class C fires.

First aid kit: A basic first aid kit is important to treat minor or superficial injuries that may occur during an emergency, particularly if medical help is not readily available. People may purchase them pre-assembled, or they can put together a custom kit by placing items such as bandages, gauze, antiseptic and alcohol wipes, antibiotic cream, and aspirin in a plastic box or container.

Gloves: A pair of sturdy work gloves will not only keep hands from getting dirty when changing a tire or while performing any other minor automotive fix, but they are also a layer of protection against injury.

Poncho: Hooded plastic rain ponchos are inexpensive and necessary to protect the clothing, head, and face of the driver if a car stalls or gets a flat when it is raining.

Tire sealant or air compressor: In the event of a punctured tire, sealant may be used to temporarily repair the problem until the tire can be replaced. A portable air compressor plugs into the vehicle and can be used to add air to a tire that’s slowly deflating. Like tire sealant, an air compressor is a temporary fix.

Blank paper and a pen: In the event of a car accident, it’s important to have a pen and paper readily available. Put them to use writing down the other driver’s information and any details about the accident. If the car is stuck or has stalled, a pen and paper will also be useful to leave a note in the event that the driver needs to leave the vehicle for any reason.

Blankets: A blanket is one of the basic survival items that should be included in the winter version of any vehicle’s emergency kit. A wool or solar blanket will keep passengers warm if the car stalls at night or during cold weather.

Cat litter: A small bag of cat litter can help free tires stuck in snow or mud by helping to create enough traction. Although it is heavier than kitty litter, sand may also be stored in the car for this purpose.

Shovel: A small collapsible shovel is useful during the winter months for shoveling excess snow from around tires that are stuck.