An emergency kit can mean the difference between being stranded for a couple of minutes and sitting around waiting for several hours for assistance.
Here are 14 must-have items for your in-car emergency kit:
When it’s dark
Flashlight –You’ll need some light if you need to change a tire or look at your engine. Verify that you have an additional set of batteries, just in case.
Road flares – Use road flares to alert traffic that has been stopped by your car. Follow the packaging instructions to ensure that you are safe and that others around you are safe.
When it’s hot
Water –On hot days, water is essential. Store at least one gallon in BPA-free containers per person. Bringing an extra gallon in case your vehicle overheats is also a great idea.
Electrolytes and/or hydration salts –Salt is important because it helps to maintain water levels in your body, and sodium is caused by dehydration. Electrolytes and salts of hydration will help replenish your body.
Extra coolant – Hot weather can tax your vehicle, so it’s smart to pack an extra coolant bottle. Check the temperature gage and coolant levels of your vehicle.
A fan or cooling device –A fan operated by the battery is a great way to create additional airflow and heat relief. In any department or outdoor gear shop, these can be purchased.
Cooler with ice – Ice cold drinks can help keep the temperature of your body down, so keep a few handy. Bring with you a cooling towel or two – if you are overheated, they work fast and last longer than a normal wet towel.
Sunscreen – Protect your skin from the sun to avoid getting burned if you’re waiting by the side of the road. Most sunscreens expire after a year, so remember to check the expiration date and replace it if necessary.
Umbrella – An umbrella can help keep you out of the sun and will help you stay cool in exposed areas.
Extra mobile phone battery pack – Cell phone batteries drain quicker in hot weather, so it’s a good idea to have an extra battery pack with you.
When it’s cold
Matches and/or a lighter – These come in handy if you need to start a fire to stay warm.
Mylar blanket – There are many uses for Mylar blankets. They’ll keep you warm in the cold and provide a waterproof cover to keep things dry. With the potential for wet El Niño weather, it’s not a bad idea to keep a couple of these stocked in your car kit in case flash flooding leaves you stuck in the rain.
When you need to change a tire
Tire jack and wrench – These two items will make changing a tire easier. The tire jack that comes with your vehicle is often flimsy so consider investing in a more robust one. And remember to use your vehicle’s hazard lights and pull over to a safe place when changing your tire roadside.
Spare tire – It’s hard to change a tire without a spare. Make sure you have the proper spare as supplied by your vehicle manufacturer and that it’s not flat or expired. Yes, tires expire.
Jumper cables – It’s always a good idea to keep these in your car in case the battery dies.
Oil – In case your engine needs motor oil, keep two quarts of it handy.
First aid kit – You can never go wrong with a few bandages, adhesive tape, gauze pads and aspirin. Better to have a first aid kit and not need it than to need one and not have it.
Extra fuses – Keeping a box of fuses in your kit is a smart idea. If your turn signals don’t blink or your tail lights go out, chances are, you need to change a fuse.
Nonperishable nutrition bars and water – If you’re stranded in a place without restaurants or a convenience store nearby, you may want to keep a few snacks in your kit.
No matter how reliable your car is, you never know when your emergency kit will come in handy. Keep your kit in an easy-to-reach place, and make sure your passengers know that it’s available and where it’s located.
Additionally, if you don’t want to make your kit, you can always purchase one online. Just make sure you know how to use all of the items included in your kit properly in order to avoid safety mishaps.1