Planning a camping or road trip soon? Whether it’s a flat tire, bad weather, or car accident, emergencies can strike anytime and anywhere. You may or may not be able to reach help. It’s important to have the supplies on hand to handle anything that comes your way no matter where you are. That is why we encourage every driver to keep emergency supplies at the ready in their car.
We’ve compiled a list of items you should consider adding to your car’s emergency kit to keep you and your family safe on the road. As items may expire and your needs can remember to regularly check your kit at least every 6 months to make sure all items are still usable and refresh your kit as needed.
- Properly inflated spare tire, jack, & wheel wrench: Regularly check your spare to ensure it inflated properly and holding pressure.
- Jumper cables or portable jump starter: Pros of a portable start are that you don’t need another vehicle to recharge your battery, many have more safety features than traditional cables, they are compact, and they can often be used to charge other items on the go as well. There are some cons to consider though. Portable units need to be recharged after several uses; some may not have the battery capacity to charge larger vehicle batteries, the larger the battery capacity the more expensive they are, and finally the units can be fragile, meaning that they can be easily damaged if not stored properly.
- Road flares and/or reflective triangles: You want to be able to signal to other drivers where you are. If you are stuck on the side of the road changing a tire the last thing you want is for another driver to unexpectedly hit you while not paying attention or due to poor visibility.
- Tool kit: Having some basic tools can help you get off the road and to the repair shop if your car breaks down. This can include a multi-tool, tire gauge, screwdrivers, pliers, duct tape, fire extinguisher, and vehicle fluids (antifreeze, oil, etc.). Tailor your tools to your climate, car, and vehicle age.
- First aid kit: A basic kit with pain reliever, antihistamines, band-aids, hand sanitizer, and gloves is better than nothing, but including a kit with gauze, splints, and any prescription medications your family may need is even better.
- Flashlight: You may become stranded at night or need some extra light to check under the hood of your car if you run into mechanical issues. Also, remember to keep some spare batteries on hand.
- Water: We like to keep at least a gallon of potable water in our vehicle at all times. Water can be used for not only drinking in this case but also cooling your car down in the event it overheats or cleaning something off if needed.
- Food: You may be stuck on the side of the road for a matter of minutes or a matter of hours. Having some food available will keep hungry stomachs at bay and relieve some tension. Try to keep non-perishable items on hand such as granola bars, nuts & seeds, dried goods like fruit or jerky, or MREs as these will last longer. If you have pets along for the ride remember to keep some spare food and water for them as well.
- Blanket and/or spare clothes: This is especially important when traveling in the winter or colder climate. If you are stuck when the temperature drops, you’ll be happy to layer up and keep warm while making a repair or waiting for help. Spare clothes will also help in the event your current clothing gets dirty, damaged, or wet. We like to keep both a thermal emergency blanket and a traditional fleece blanket in the car. Blankets can also be used for shade in warmer climates.
- Emergency contact info: Make sure to have your auto insurance info, contact for roadside assistance, towing, or repair, in addition to emergency contact numbers.
- Weather-related gear: Tailor this to your climate and weather forecasts. This could include an ice scraper, shovel, sand/kitty litter, hand warmers, rain gear, sunblock, or insect repellant.
- Pet supplies: if you have pets make sure to take care of them with items such as food, water, bowls, leashes, and harnesses.
- Child car items: Make sure to keep spare items for the youngest members of your family with spare formula, bottles, diapers, and wipes.
- Sanitary items: Basic items such as paper towels, toilet paper, disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer, feminine hygiene products, trash bags, or Ziplock baggies can all come in handy.
Ready.gov – Car Safety
Prepare today the Cascadia way!