Everything You Need to Know Guide to Roadside Emergency Preparation
When you gear up for a road trip or even just a trip to the supermarket, you never expect your car to break down along the way. The reality is that breakdowns happen – often when you least expect it – so it can’t hurt to be prepared for the worst.
Be Prepared for Roadside Emergencies
But how prepared is prepared enough? Some people suggest packing your vehicle with every item imaginable (including staples as a face mask, pepper spray, and paracord while others recommend keeping your car stocked with a few essentials.
You can’t control when your car breaks down, but you can be knowledgeable about the tools and items you need to get through the situation safely and smartly. Keeping your safety and the safety of your passengers in mind, we can suggest several roadside emergency kits. These roadside essentials can help you out in the event of a breakdown. If you are in a dangerous situation or need a tow call emergency numbers for assistance or a friend.
The Basic Kit
We have handpicked the items below to represent what should be included in a basic roadside emergency kit. Easy to store and simple to use we recommend storing these products in your vehicle.
This is one item that you should always have in your car because you simply never know when you might need a jump. You might forget to turn your headlights off and drain your car battery, or your car battery might unexpectedly quit on you. Having jumper cables means that you can call a friend or family member (or flag down a passerby) for a jump instead of having to call – and pay for a tow truck.
Breakdowns can happen at any time of day, including at night when it’s dark. Trying to change a tire when you can barely see your hand in front of your face just adds insult to injury. This is why keeping a flashlight handy is a good idea. Also, if you happen to run out of gas at night and have to walk to a gas station, carrying a flashlight lets other drivers know that you’re there. A bright, weatherproof flashlight is the best choice. Make sure it works before hitting the road.
First aid kit
Although you might not necessarily need this in the event of a breakdown, it is something you should keep in your vehicle in case you or a passenger gets hurt. Basic items like painkillers, bandages, gauze, antibiotic ointment, antihistamines for allergic reactions, alcohol wipes, medical tape, and an instant ice pack could all come in handy.
Most cars come equipped with a jack and wheel spanner. Make sure your vehicle has them and if it does, make sure they work and that you know how to use them. If you do not have them, get them and keep them in your car. You should also keep a tire pressure gauge in your glove compartment so you can check the air pressure on a monthly basis. Getting a can of Fix-a-Flat is also a good idea because it works really well to patch up small holes in your tire(s) until you can get them looked at by a professional. Also, check your spare tire to make sure that it is filled with air.
Triangle Reflectors and Roadside Flares
These are great to have on hand because putting them around your car, especially at night, while you are changing a flat or waiting for help it will let other motorists know that A) they should slow down and B) you need help. We recommend having two reflectors and four 15-minute flares in your vehicle.
A blanket can be used in a number of different breakdown scenarios. If you get cold while waiting for help, you can obviously wrap yourself or your passengers up to keep warm. If you are changing a tire or doing something where you have to kneel on the ground, laying a blanket down and kneeling on it will help you keep your clothes clean while providing some cushioning.
Roll of Paper Towels
If you have to change a tire, your hands are going to get really dirty. Having a roll of paper towels to clean your hands with will help you avoid dirtying up the interior of your car with dirty handprints. Another excellent addition/alternative are baby wipes. They’ll get your hands clean and, since most are scented, will leave them smelling fresh. Speaking of staying clean, it’s a good idea to keep some alcohol-based hand sanitizer in your car as well. In a pinch it does a great job of eliminating germs but remember to use it sparingly because it can quickly dry out your hands.
Air Compressor with Jump Starter
What happens if your battery dies and there is no other car on the road to provide you with a jump? Air compressors with built in jump starters are handy devices designed just for these occasions. These useful tools generate compressed air for a flat tire and provide the power needed to jumpstart your vehicle without the assistance of another motorist. Many air compressors with built in jump starters can be charged at home and stored in your vehicle.
You never know when you might have to make a minor repair so it is best to stash a few small tools in your car. A flat-blade screwdriver, Philips-head screwdriver, pliers, adjustable wrench (use it sparingly – it can strip a bolt head pretty quickly), and/or multi-tool (one that has a knife, scissors, screwdrivers, saw, and a wire cutter) are all good to have on hand. If you can’t fix something yourself but somebody is nice enough to stop and help you, this will give them something to work with.
Extra Bottles of Fluids
Keep a couple extra quarts of oil, a gallon coolant, and a bottle of windshield wiper fluid in your trunk, and you’ll be glad you have them if you need them. Put them all in a cardboard box so they don’t bounce around your trunk and/or spill. Get a funnel and keep it in your car too – it will make pouring those fluids easy.
Items to keep you sane
There are a few other items you should add to your breakdown kit to keep yourself from losing your cool. A box of energy bars will help to ease hunger pangs if you get them If you are stuck on the side of the road in the heat, having a few bottles of water to sip on will keep you hydrated. Having a deck of cards and/or a book can help pass the time if you’re stuck. Although it may not seem like it, having a pad of paper and a pen or pencil can also help you keep your mind occupied. Besides being able to jot down the details of your “adventure” for posterity, you can play Hangman or Tic-Tac-Toe if you happen to be transporting passengers. Also, if you need to leave your vehicle unattended, you can write a quick note saying that you will return shortly and stick it in under your windshield wiper.
Fix-A-Flat Aerosol Tire Inflator
The easiest and least expensive way to repair a flat tire in an emergency is with a can of Fix-A-Flat. It seals small punctures and puts enough air in the tire to allow you to safely get off the side of the road and to your nearest service station where the permanent tire repair can be made. It seals and inflates the tire in seconds without the need for a jack, spare tire or any specialty tools. Fix-A-Flat is non-flammable making it safe to leave a can in your truck just in case!
The Worst-Case Scenario Kit
First and foremost, get a four-pack of toilet paper, take the cardboard tubes out, flatten them, and stick them in your car. Second, make a dental kit – put a toothbrush, toothpaste, and dental floss in a zip-top bag and add it to the rest of your gear. Third, get some trash bags. A trash bag, besides being used to haul garbage in, can also make for a pretty good impromptu toilet if you’re not comfortable being one with nature. Finally, it can’t hurt to have a box of tissues handy. A breakdown and a cold can happen at the same time, after all.
Let’s face it if you’re stranded in the middle of nowhere, you might have to spend the night there. This is when you’ll be glad that you have a sleeping bag with you. Since there is a chance that you might be involuntarily camping, pack some waterproof matches in case you need to start a camp fire. Some other good items to pack are a rain poncho, sunscreen, a bandanna (use as a sweat rag or face mask if you’re caught in a dust storm – it can happen), a hat, walking shoes, a tarp (makes a good makeshift tent or sleeping surface), extra batteries for your flashlight, a backpack in case you have to hoof it to higher ground for some reason, and simple food items like energy bars or whole wheat crackers.
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