Do you have an emergency car kit? If you’re like many people you’ve probably never even thought about it.
An emergency car kit can protect you in case of a break down and possibly save your life. Whether your car breaks down on a hot summer day or it gets stuck in a snow bank, you’ll want to have some basic essentials to help you through a few hours if not a few days.
You should have the following:
- fire extinguisher
- first-aid kit
- jumper cables
- charged cell phone
- pepper spray
- energy or protein bars
- work gloves and/or latex gloves
- flashlight and extra batteries
- tire gauge
- inflated spare tire
- a lug nut wrench or tire iron
- pipe for leverage
- duct tape
- rain poncho
In the summer:
- sun shades for the front and rear windows
In the winter:
- windshield ice scraper
- snow brush
- sand or cat litter (not the for traction under your tires if you’re stuck snow
- snow shovel
If you can:
- reflective triangles
- flare gun
- multipurpose utility tool
- tow strap or rope
You can get prepackaged emergency kits in varying price points. You can also get a combination of prepackaged items and add other items on this list as needed to create a complete kit. I strongly advise you get most of the items on this list. If you’re lucky, you won’t have to use it, but at least you’ll have it. You can pack your items in a milk crate (wood or plastic), a cardboard box, or something similar.
Make sure you know how to use everything in your kit. It would be awful to break down, have all these things, and still not be able to use them.
Some tips for emergency situations:
- If you feel your car losing power, try to get off the road as soon as you become aware. Most states prefer that you park on the right side, but if for any reason you can’t don’t hesitate to park on the left. Just make sure you are completely off the road.
- At night, turn on your hazard lights to indicate that you need help and to let other drivers know they should take care when driving around your car. If you have them, you should also set up reflective triangles or flare lights.
- In the day time, prop open your hood, and tie a white rag to your antennae, door handle, or catch it in a rolled up window.
- If you can help it, don’t run anything that needs energy to run, such as the radio.*
- If you are comfortable making repairs yourself, wear a reflective vest while you do them.
- Do NOT accept a ride from anyone.
- Stay inside your car with your doors locked and windows closed until help arrives.
- If a police or other law enforcement officer arrives, you can call the local police station or even 911 to confirm that he or she is legitimate. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
- The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation gives your the option to list an emergency contact in their database, which is accessed with your driver’s license. This is a great option. It would make it quicker and easier to contact your loved ones or next of kin in case of an emergency. You can research whether your state’s department of transportation offers this option.
*When a car is on, the power pulled from the battery will circulate the other electric parts of your car. This means that accessories like the power windows and radio will not be pulling power solely and directly from the battery, but rather from the battery and alternator combined. When you’re driving your car, the alternator will continue to charge the battery. When a car is idling, the alternator will charge the battery, as long as your battery and alternator are good, but not as quickly. Whereas if you are driving the car, the alternator will be creating more energy thus charging the battery more quickly. This is why it’s advised that you drive around after getting a jumpstart, so that the alternator will continue charging the battery to its maximum potential (which of course depends on how worn your battery is)