Emergencies can happen anytime, anywhere. The fact is emergencies have an annoying tendency to happen when you least expect them. Considering the amount of time we spend in our cars, the likelihood of problems or emergencies while driving is pretty high. You never know when you might get stranded or have an accident. In such instances, having a car emergency kit might make all the difference between getting back on the road and being stuck for hours on end. That too, often in dangerous conditions. So, it’s best always to be prepared for any situation.
If you’re planning a road trip, or even if it’s just a drive during adverse conditions, it’s good to have the following items in your car.
- Roadside flares or hazard triangles
- Jumper cables
- Basic car tool kit and/or a multi-utility tool
- Fire extinguisher
- Cell phone charger
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- A compass
- A fully stocked first aid kit. It must contain gauze, tape, bandages, antibiotic ointment, aspirin, a blanket, non-latex gloves, and scissors. Also include hydrocortisone, thermometer, tweezers, and an instant cold compress.
- Drinking water
- High-energy, nonperishable foods such as unsalted nuts, dried fruits, and hard confectionery
- Reflective vest in case you need to walk in the dark/fog/snow to get help
- Duct tape
- Rain poncho/jacket
- A snow brush, shovel, windshield washer fluid, warm clothes, cat litter for traction, and blankets are useful in cold weather.
(All the items are as based on National Safety Council recommendations)
Important tip: If you are driving with children in the car, then stock up on food, drinks, and blankets for them too.
Additional items good to have in your emergency kit
- GPS handheld device
- Towing chain or strap
- Hand sanitizer, tissues, small trash bags
- Car battery charger in an emergency
- Snowshoes, gloves, and so on
- Whistle to alert searchers
- Hand crank and/or battery-powered radio
- Sleeping bag(s)
Must I have a car emergency kit even while driving in the city?
It is important to have a car emergency kit in your vehicle at all times in case of an emergency. This way, you will have the necessary items with you when you need them most.
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Do I need to have a separate winter car emergency kit?
Always be prepped for any emergency. More so during winter when the weather makes it difficult to drive. Certain items need to be in your car during winter. You would do well to check on them and replenish these items during fall instead of waiting till the weather takes a turn for the worse. Knowing what you have in your car during adverse weather conditions is half the battle. You know how long you can afford to wait it out or whether you need to set out to find help immediately.
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What items do I need to have in my winter car emergency kit?
Make sure you have the following items in your emergency kit during winter:
- Salt, sand, or even cat litter
- Antifreeze or windshield washer fluid
- Snow shovels/ice scrapers/snow brushes
- Warm blankets
- Tow strap or chain
- Winter boots
While keeping all these in your car will certainly help, it’s always best not to be out and about in adverse weather.
10 general car safety tips
- Make sure your vehicle’s hazard lights are on if you need to pull over to make emergency repairs.
- In case of an evacuation or power loss, keep your gas tank full. The fuel line will not freeze if the tank is full.
- Install appropriate winter tires with enough tread and any chains or studs required in your location.
- Driving in flooded areas is not recommended. A car can lose control or stall if it is submerged in six inches of water. Most cars will float in a foot of water.
- Keep an eye out for regions where the floodwaters have just gone down. The water may have degraded to the point where it could collapse under the weight of a vehicle.
- You are at risk of electrical shock if a power line falls on your car. Stay indoors until a trained person removes the wire.
- If driving becomes difficult, pull over, come to a complete stop, and use the parking brake.
- Avoid overpasses, bridges, power lines, billboards/signs, and other hazards if the emergency threatens the road’s stability.
- Plan for long journeys well ahead. Listen to the radio or television for the most up-to-date weather predictions and road conditions.
- When driving in terrible weather, here’s the most important rule – only do it if it is really necessary.