People rarely think about having an emergency kit in their vehicle until they need one. Accidents and breakdowns happen, and rarely in your driveway. When you are on a road trip, you cannot always guarantee that a breakdown will occur when the sun is shining and your cell phone has great reception. Also, many people have a false sense of security because they belong to a roadside assistance program – as they are only effective if you are able to make the call.
The best way to ease the hassle of a breakdown is to be prepared. You can purchase a variety of “pre-packaged” kits. Before a road trip you may want to consider assembling your own or augmenting the one you purchased to include the following basic items:
1. Charged cell phone – it is a good idea have a charged cell phone while driving to ensure that it is fully charged when you need it to make a call.
2. First Aid kit – readily available in many locations. It should include band-aids, antiseptic ointment, adhesive tape, gauze, scissors, etc.
3. Flashlight with extra batteries – note that batteries should not be stored in the flashlight. It is even better if the flashlight is waterproof.
4. Whistle to help to be heard.
5. Jumper cables.
6. Foam Tire Sealant for slow leaks or a flat tire – enough to get you to a service station.
7. Multi-purpose utility tool such as a Leatherman or Swiss Army Knife.
8. Duct tape universally used for a variety of repairs.
9. Plastic rain poncho from the dollar store.
10. Warm blanket
11. During colder months – extra mittens, warm hat, or even warm winter boots (especially for women who may be travelling in fashion footwear that offers little warmth or comfort).
12. Beeswax candle in a tin can and matches.
13. Windshield ice scraper, brush, and extra windshield fluid.
14. Small shovel.
15. Bag of kitty litter for traction under your wheels if you get stuck.
16. Drinking water.
17. Non-perishable snacks – a protein bar and a bag of unsalted nuts are great choices.
18. Reflective warning triangles (3 is best) to place on the road behind your vehicle when it is broken down.
Some of these items are handy to have in your vehicle at all times, even while just driving around the city running errands.