The Car Emergency Kit
Being out on the road, you must be prepared for anything that might come to you. At the same time, you can’t take everything with you. You still need room for people, cargo, and much more! Plus, the more stuff you carry with you, the more weight in the vehicle – and the worse your gas mileage will be.
If you are going on a long trip – moving to a different state, a family road trip, or something similar – you’ll need to ensure you have an emergency roadside kit. Even for daily commuters, an emergency kit can be helpful. Not all issues occur far from home. At Number 1 Auto Transport, we suggest putting together your own emergency roadside kit that meets your regular usage needs and tackles the likely emergency you could face. So what should you pack in your vehicle’s emergency roadside kit?
A Ready-Made Emergency Roadside Kit
You can snag one at your local auto parts store, a big box store, Amazon, or even a convenience store. These kits are compact and include emergency essentials. At the very least, it should feature jumper cables, signaling devices, flares or traffic triangles, and first aid gear. Some may also include some of the items we name later in this piece. You can find kits with all sorts of features, but these are necessary items they must have.
A Roll of Bright Duct Tape
You could include this as part of an emergency roadside kit. In reality, it is helpful in more than just emergencies—repair, first aid, signaling, water collection, and sealing drafty doors if caught in cold weather. There’s a reason duct tape is present in almost every garage, household, or store across the country. Make sure to go for brightly colored or reflective tape – these can serve much better if you are stranded or need to walk somewhere in the dark, as safety colors will stand out much more than standard gray.
You don’t have to lug around the big, bulky metal cans of the past. Small 1- and 2-gallon poly gas cans are easy to store, take up very little space, and should be enough to get your vehicle to the next gas station if you run out of fuel. There are even foldable containers for those seeking truly compact kits! Of course, if you are driving somewhere super-remote, you’ll want a larger can, and you may even want to ensure it is filled before moving ahead with your journey. But for most, a small, empty can or container will work best; you must be ready to walk or hitch a ride.
Flat Tire Response
Your vehicle likely has an undersized emergency spare, so don’t eliminate that. Unless you have space and want to opt for a full-size spare to get better peace of mind should a flat occur. A tire sealant like Slime or Fix-A-Flat may also be worth keeping if you’re unsure about the road or driving conditions for changing a tire. You’ll also need a tire iron, a lug wrench, a jack, and some WD-40. This will help you be prepared for any tire failures that could come up.
Emergency Escape Tool
There are dozens of options on the market, including The Original Life Hammer, Rescue-U, the rescue me Car Escape Tool, and more. You get an excellent emergency egress tool by combining a window-breaker and a seat belt cutter into a tiny package. Some more extensive tools may add a built-in flashlight, a cutting edge, or a crowbar – but they will cost a bit more. The basic two-function tool is almost always good enough, usually costs under $10, and can fit anywhere in your car that is easy to reach! There’s no excuse not to have one.
Your Owner’s Manual
Every car comes with one. You are going to bet that few, if any of us, have read it. If you did, we’d guess it was to troubleshoot the radio or navigation system. The owner’s manual is an excellent resource for troubleshooting, parts specifications, emergency numbers, taking or making notes, storing necessary car paperwork like insurance and title, and much more. You or a repair person may need these things in a pinch, especially if you need aid in a remote location with little or no internet or cell service.
A Thorough Maintenance Record
A record of what has been done to your car recently and in the past can help an emergency mechanic figure out where to start. Recent maintenance or repairs can help them figure out a jumping-off point for diagnosing – or can help them eliminate possible causes. Either way, a maintenance record for your vehicle is essential. It will also help add value when you go to sell it!
License, Insurance, and Registration
Do we need to say this? We shouldn’t, but you’d be surprised how many people still don’t realize they must always have this paperwork in the vehicle. Carry your license in your wallet or purse while keeping insurance, and registration should stay with the car – many owner’s manuals will be packaged in a holder with a spot for these.
A Charged Cell Phone
All cell phones can call 911, regardless of whether they have an active service subscription. Yes, even your ancient durable Nokia. Keep one of your older cell phones, and stow it in your vehicle, powered down, with a fully charged battery. Check on it every once in a while, and make sure it is charged before a long trip. That way, even if your active cell phone runs out of juice on you, you can still connect to emergency services if needed. Another option would be to carry a charged power bank with you, which can power your phone even if your car dies and the phone runs out of charge.
Most of us live and die by plastic, whether debit or credit. Still, some places in the world don’t accept it, including toll roads and services. You’re out of luck if you end up in one of those places without cash. We recommend keeping a twenty-dollar bill and a container of change – mainly quarters, but also some nickels and dimes – in your car in case you need emergency fuel, food, or toll.
A Brightly-Colored Bandanna
It’s like the cloth version of duct tape – infinitely useful! You can use a bandanna as a washcloth, napkin, tourniquet, bandage, and more. It can also help you breathe in a cloud of dust or sandstorm, or you can tie it around your head like a sweatband. The reason you want a brightly colored one, preferably red, green, or any of the high-visibility colors available, is that you can tie it to your antenna to make your car visible whether to get the attention of passing motorists for help or don’t want your vehicle to get buried under snow piles.
Disposable or Extra Reusable Masks
Welcome to post-2019 travel. Like it or not, mask use is here, and it will become more and more common. It’s not likely that we’ll ever see a maskless United States ever again, whether protecting against COVID, seasonal flu, or other transmissible pathogens. Take the safety of others into consideration and the potential that they may be required for interactions with emergency personnel. If you get stranded and have to walk through mosquito or fly-infested areas, they can make breathing easier without inhaling bugs.
You could pack all of the paper products – toilet paper, towels, and tissues – but if there is one must-have, you’ve got to go with toilet paper. It is thin enough to double as tissue but strong enough to work as a paper towel. If you’re stranded without a proper bathroom, having toilet paper on hand will make things much less horrifying and a bit more comfortable if you have to address nature’s call.
Pencil and Notebook
You never know when you’ll need to write something down. A sharpened pencil and notebook are a must for your glove box. A pen could also work, but leaving it there for too long could lead to it drying out and failing at the worst possible moment.
This may sound like a lot, but you’d be surprised how easy it will be to fit much of this in a storage cubby in your cargo area, the glovebox, and perhaps the center console. They actually don’t take up all that much room and don’t add too much weight either. Be prepared for whatever the road may throw at you – no one has ever regretted being too ready for a vehicle emergency.
Don’t Worry About an Emergency While Moving.
The last thing you want to worry about in the middle of a long-distance move is having to deal with a vehicle emergency. If your car, truck, or SUV packed full of your personal belongings, digging emergency response tools out will be a nightmare. That’s why you hire Number 1 Auto Transport to move your car, truck, or SUV – et us worry about any emergencies that may pop up while you can worry about a successful move! Our team at Number 1 Auto Transport always carries everything it needs for emergencies along the way, meaning less stress for you – a smarter way to move!