Every car should have an emergency kit, no matter how new or old your vehicle is. You just never know when an emergency or dire situation will arise, so it’s always better to be prepared than be caught without.
In addition to stocking your car with the proper supplies, you should take the time to plan long trips carefully ahead of time. Check the weather and traffic before you set out. Check your tire pressure and make necessary adjustments. And always leave a bit early to give yourself extra time. Rushing leads to mistakes and hasty decisions on the roadways.
Ready.gov recommends you stock this emergency supply kit in your vehicle in case you get stranded:
- Jumper cables
- Ice scraper
- Flares or reflective triangle
- Smart phone charger
- Cat litter or sand (to achieve better tire traction)
In addition to those basics, you should also include:
- Properly inflated spare tire, tripod jack and wheel wrench
- Tool kit and multipurpose utility tool
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- First aid kit with tape, gauze, bandages, antibiotic ointment, pain reliever, a blanket, latex gloves, scissors, thermometer, hydrocortisone, tweezers and instant cold compresses
- Non-perishable, high-energy foods, such as dried fruits and unsalted nuts
- Drinking water
- Reflective vest (if you have to leave your vehicle to get help)
- Fire extinguisher
- Duct tape
- Rain poncho
Preparing Your Car for Emergencies
Before setting out on any road trip, make sure your mechanic checks the following on your vehicle to help prevent an emergency:
- Antifreeze levels
- Tire pressure
- Battery and ignition system
- Heater and defroster
- Exhaust system
- Fuel and air filters
- Lights and flashing hazard lights
- Windshield wiper equipment
- Washer fluid level
Heed These Car Safety Tips
Now that your car is stocked with the right supplies, here are some tips on how to maintain safety when driving.
- During times of storms or possibilities of power outages, make sure your gas tank is always full. This will also serve to keep the fuel line from freezing.
- Put on quality winter tires, making sure they have enough tread.
- Don’t drive through flooded areas. It only takes six inches of water to make you lose control or stall, and only a foot of water to float your car.
- Keep an eye on areas where floodwaters are receding. While the water may be gone, the roads could be weak and may collapse under your car’s weight.
- Stay inside the vehicle if a power line falls on it. This poses a risk of electrical shock. Wait until a trained rescue person removes the wire.
Emergency supply kits should be kept in the trunk. Check the kit every six months and make additions or swap out expired items.
Tire safety is of particular importance. Always make sure your tires are appropriate for the season and are at the correct pressure.