What Should be in a Car Emergency Kit?

Let’s assume that it is late at night and you are on your way back home after work. You are headed down a dark country road when suddenly, the steering wheel tugs in your hands and the car is hard to control. You manage to stop the vehicle and when you get out, you realize you have a flat tire and no spare.

You are fine providing that you have roadside assistance and a working cell phone signal, you can easily call for help. If you don’t have these things the story is a little different. Do you try and wave down another motorist providing that there are actually other people using the country road at night? Do you have to spend the night out in the cold?

Providing that you have thought ahead and prepared a car emergency kit, life gets easier. You can set out flares to alert other drivers while you inflate the tire with a can of sealant to get you to safety. If these steps fail, at least you’ll have some food, water and a blanket to keep you comfortable until help arrives.

Car emergency kits are important for any motorist, even more so if you happen to travel long distances in your vehicle. It can be the difference between getting back on your way or being stranded for hours.

Before looking at what should go into your emergency kit, you need to understand that you regularly need to check and update the kit depending on driving patterns and the weather. If you live in an area with no snow or freezing rain, you can skip some of these items. Also, if something on this list is inexpensive and small, you might as well carry it. You never know what kind of situations you might have to deal with.

A basic car emergency kit should include some of, if not all of the following items:

  • Jumper cables
  • Flares or triangle reflectors
  • A quart or more of motor oil
  • A gallon of coolant
  • Small first-aid kit
  • Blanket or space blanket
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Basic tool kit with screwdrivers, pliers, adjustable wrench, pocket knife
  • A can of tire inflator and sealant
  • Tire pressure gauge
  • Paper towels
  • Spray bottle with washer fluid
  • Ice scraper
  • Pen and paper
  • Granola or energy bars
  • Bottled water

You need to find a good bag or box to keep these items together in the trunk of your car. The last thing that you want to be doing is hunting round the vehicle in the dark to try and locate something.

Before you actually use your kit in an emergency situation, take some time to familiarize yourself with the items you’ve collected and how to use them properly. If your car breaks down, make sure you stop on the shoulder, well out of the flow of traffic. Turn on your emergency flashers and, if you have roadside assistance and a cell phone, stay in your vehicle until help arrives. If it’s a problem that needs quick response, or you are on that dark country road that we mentioned before, take out your emergency kit and proceed cautiously.

Unfortunately, there isn’t one tool for all roadside emergencies. But with a little planning and some organization, you’ll have a kit that could save the day.


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