A visit to any big box store or online retailer can provide you with a fair number of options for ready-made emergency kits for your vehicle, but the truth is, most of them are lacking at least a few key items. If you want to tailor your kit to your specific needs, and save money while you do, consider creating your own instead. Whether you purchase or put together a kit, be sure to include these 5 essential items:
1. A Well Rounded First Aid Kit
Some necessary items for your first aid kit include band-aids, adhesive tape, gauze pads, antibiotic ointment, an ace bandage, tweezers, and pain reliever or aspirin. Be sure to include medicines or other health care items for anyone who regularly travels with you and has specific health care concerns.
2. Flashlight and Batteries
Choose a bright, waterproof flashlight, prefferrably one that can take a beating if necessary. Be sure to put fresh new batteries inside so it’s ready for use, and pack some spares as well.
3. Jumper Cables
Car batteries don’t always provide a warning before they fail, and anyone can find themselves in a bind if they don’t have a good set of jumper cables. Ideally, you’ll want a pair that is at least 12 ft. in length, and of a decent quality.
4. Road Flares
In case of a breakdown, be sure you have several reflective triangles or road flares, so other drivers will clearly be able to see you. These are a must in bad weather and at night. You’ll want to know how to use them, too, even if it’s only while you wait for help to arrive.
5. Spare Tire
Check to be sure your spare tire is properly inflated, and you have a jack and tire iron. Keep a tire gauge in your kit and use it monthly to ensure the spare is ready if you need it. And if you have teen drivers, coach them on how to safely change a tire so you both feel reassured. A rain poncho or small tarp is a good addition too.
While the short list above is plenty to allow for a dead battery or a flat tire, if you are comfortable with a more hands on approach (or if you can call upon someone who is) consider adding some of the following additional items:
6. Fire extinguisher –
This should be rated for Class B ( fires involving flammable or combustible materials) and Class C (fires involving electrical equipment)
7. Pocket knife or multipurpose tool
8. Work gloves and rags
9. Roll of duct tape
10. Simple tools – common items such as a small wrench and socket set, a few screwdrivers, a hammer and some pliers, for example
11. Spare Fuses
Lastly, every driver should have some basic survival items in case the worst should happen. If you are stranded or injured, being prepared while you wait for help will greatly increase your chances for a positive outcome. Some key items to consider include:
12. Warm blanket – A couple of space blankets will save space and do the job as well
13. Bottled drinking water
14. Non-perishable snacks, such as protein bars
15. A change of clothing – or at least a sweatshirt, warm hat, and dry socks
16. In colder seasons – a folding snow shovel and ice scraper, and a bag of cat litter to add traction
17. For drivers with kids – spare diapers and wipes and emergency entertainment like coloring books and crayons or playing cards are handy
18. For drivers with pets – a couple cans of food or treats and pet dishes
Hopefully, you’ll never need to use most of the items listed here, but having a good emergency kit will allow you to be ready for whatever curves the road may throw at you, and that assurance is worth the effort.