29 Things You Need in Your Car Emergency Kit Right Now
Taking the proper steps to feel empowered while on a long drive matters even more if you live in an area where you experience severe temperatures—hot or cold. If you’re forced to spend the night in your car with no blankets or water and freezing temperatures, this can be life-threatening. The same goes for if you’re stuck in the middle of nowhere in high temperatures with no water to stay hydrated.
I always suggest having an emergency kit in your vehicle at all times, especially if you’re always on the road. Not only will you feel safe, but you’ll also be much more comfortable during situations when you’re waiting for roadside assistance.
Keeping reading to find out what you need in your car emergency kit before heading out on your next road trip or long drive.
What Should I Keep in My Car Safety Kit?
Adopting a few good habits will mean you’re much less likely to find yourself in a situation where you’re stuck on the road, waiting long periods for assistance. Keep your tank filled up, check your oil, coolant, windshield washer, and brake fluid levels regularly, and keep your tire pressure at the recommended psi.
It’s also a good idea to keep your cell phone charged and check the weather forecast before you set off. If you’re going on a long journey, especially in rural areas, at night, or in bad weather, be sure to tell people so they’ll know where to look for you if there’s a problem and you don’t arrive when expected. Keeping an auto emergency kit is not just a good habit: it’s an essential one.
Assemble and pack all the following items in a suitable bag or container in your trunk. Make sure you can get to it easily, as you never know when you’re going to need it.
Emergency Essentials 101
- Cell phone charger, in-car charger cable, and charged external battery pack with charging cable
- Drinking water and non-perishable food (energy bars, nuts, and dried fruits, etc.)
- First aid kit
- Blankets, warm clothing, waterproofs, and tough footwear
- High-visibility vest or jacket
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Triangle reflectors
- Compact fire extinguisher
- Tarp (to fashion a waterproof shelter if needed)
- Pen and paper (to note down numbers and addresses)
Quick Fix Basics
- Protective gloves and eyewear
- Paper towels or cloth rags
- Emergency gas
- Engine oil
- Windshield washer
- Spray bottle
- Gauge to measure tire pressure
- Tire inflator
- Tire sealant
- Multitool or basic toolkit (containing at least an adjustable wrench, a two-in-one screwdriver, pliers, and cutters)
- Duct tape
- Cable ties
Essential Tools for Your Vehicle
- Carjack and tire change tools
- Portable jump starter or jump leads
Extra Emergency Car Kit Items for Local Conditions
In addition to these 29 essential items that every emergency breakdown kit should have, depending on the conditions where you live, you should pack a few extra things.
For Colder Regions and in Winter
Emergency kits for cars in colder regions such as the Northeast, Northwest, and parts of the Midwest should include the following items:
- Sand, salt, or other traction aid
- Shovel (foldable ones are available, so they don’t have to occupy much space in your trunk)
- Ice scraper and de-icer/antifreeze
- Candle heater
- Matches or lighter
- Tire chains
- Tow strap
- Hand warmers
- Sleeping bag/s if you’re on a long trip
For Warmer Regions and in Summer
An auto emergency kit in the south, where temperatures are typically higher than elsewhere in the country, should contain:
- Extra drinking water so you can make sure everyone in the vehicle stays hydrated
- Hats to keep the sun off
- Reflective blanket to provide shade
- Tarp that can double up as a shade
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For more tips on kitting out your car, have a look at these 8 affordable ways to make your car feel brand new.
What to Do in an Emergency: The Basics
If you feel your car losing power, realize you’ve got a flat tire, see smoke coming out of the hood, or notice anything else indicating a problem, the first thing to do is stay calm and look for a safe place to pull over.
You don’t always have a lot of time to choose, but at the very least you should pull over slowly, making sure you check your mirrors and indicate before moving on to the shoulder, safely away from, and not in the path of, other vehicles. Then switch on your hazard warning lights.
If safe to do so, stay in the vehicle while you call for help. If it isn’t safe to stay in the vehicle, access your emergency car kit and place the triangle reflector by the vehicle to warn other cars, before calling for help.
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