You never know what might happen while you’re out on the road – a battery failure due to extreme cold weather, a flat or slow-leaking tire, or simply getting stuck in the snow. These are just a few of the unexpected things that can happen. Although there is no way to predict that something like this will happen, it’s always best to be prepared for any scenario that may arise.
To help you properly prepare for the unexpected, we compiled a list of 20 essential emergency items that should be kept in every vehicle at all times. Some of them are more self-explanatory than others, but we’ll provide a little explanation for each.
- Cell Phone – There is nothing worse than being stranded without the ability to call for help. So be sure BEFORE you leave for your destination that your phone is charged and ready to go!
- Jumper Cables – If your car battery dies, these babies can be a real lifesaver. Try and find cables that are at least 12 feet in length because you never know what obstacles might be in the way of another car trying to give you a jump. Another option is cigarette lighter cables, which charge the battery by connecting to the vehicles’ cigarette lighters. These are a more compact choice but take longer to charge a dead battery.
- First Aid Kit – A standard 54-piece first aid kit will be invaluable if the need arises. Once you have one, be sure to keep it stocked and check it frequently for items that may need to be replaced.
- Reflective Triangles/Warning Flares – If a breakdown occurs in a heavy traffic area, you are definitely going to want to warn other drivers about your car’s whereabouts, especially at night.
- Tire Gauge – Although this is important to have to check the air pressure in your car’s tires, it’s also important to check the pressure in a spare before changing a tire. Spare tires are only meant to go short distances, and the last thing you want is to shorten that by not having it accurately inflated.
- Fix-A-Flat – This is a quick and easy way to repair a flat or slow-leaking tire without having to actually change the tire. Although it’s a temporary fix, it will get you back on the road and give you a little more time to have the tire replaced.
- Fire Extinguisher – Make sure that the extinguisher is rated for both Class B and C (Class B fires are those that involve flammable liquids and Class C involve electrical equipment) and keep it within reach of the driver’s seat.
- Flashlight with Extra Batteries – The flashlight you place in your car should be waterproof and sturdy because you might have to make a quick repair in the rain.
- Plastic Rain Poncho – For a time when you might be making a repair or walking to a gas station in the rain or snow.
- Plastic Gas Can (Empty) – Very few gas stations today offer drivers a loaner gas can if they run out of gas and they will certainly not let you fill up any container to carry back to your car. Having an empty (and I can’t stress that enough) gas can in your vehicle will save you a wasted walk and help you get back to the station to fill up.
- Duct Tape – The fact is that this stuff really does fix just about anything! Keep a roll of at least 10 feet so that you have plenty should you ever need it.
- Tow Straps/Tow Rope – If you’ve ever had your vehicle leave the paved road (whether by choice or accident), you know just how valuable this item can be. These should be strong enough to tow up to 6000 pounds and should be at least 12 feet in length.
- Rags/Work Gloves – If you’ve ever had to remove a radiator cap with your bare hands, you will understand the importance of keeping some sort of hand protection in your vehicle. In addition, repairs can be very dirty, so keeping your hands clean during and after is also essential.
- Reflective Emergency Blanket – You won’t be able to predict what the weather will be during a breakdown, so having a reflective emergency blanket with you could very well save a life! Aside from the fact that it reflects your own body heat to keep you warm, it also reflects light and can be essential to have in weather conditions with poor visibility.
- Bungee Cords – These stretchy little devils are far more useful than people give them credit for. Not only are they great for securing luggage, but in the event of a fender-bender or a damaged muffler, they can hold essential parts and pieces of the car in place until you reach a repair shop.
- Cat Litter – This works just as well as sand to provide traction to tires in icy conditions, but weighs a fraction of the amount.
- Stainless Steel Multi-Purpose Tool – There are more uses that I can list for having something like a Leatherman or a Swiss Army Knife with you, but its compact nature is what makes it most appropriate for a car.
- Windshield Washer Fluid – During a bad snowstorm, you could be in deep trouble if you run out of washer fluid. Keeping a small container in your car will ensure that you have best possible visibility at all times.
- Non-Perishable Food – During a breakdown, you may be stranded for quite a while, and having food on hand can prove to be a lifesaver. Protein or granola bars, chocolate and other non-perishable items in the 200-400 calorie range are ideal.
- Water – Much like the food, water is essential to have with you – not just to drink, but in case of the car overheating as well.
There is no way to predict if or when an emergency will happen while you are out on the road, but being prepared for many different scenarios will help you to make it through as safely and effectively as possible, and will help you to keep a level head throughout!
Was there anything that we missed? Let us know in the comments below – we always appreciate your feedback!
*image courtesy of cogdogblog on flickr