There is nothing like being prepared with a roadside emergency kit that is truly tailored to your needs.
To Build or To Buy
It’s easy to rely on a store-bought emergency kit and chances are it’ll check off the basics, but it doesn’t know that you routinely commute down a sidewalk-less road that is prone to power outages. Nor does it know that every weekend, your dog inspires you to explore roads leading to back-country hikes. And it certainly doesn’t know that your rear right door lock hasn’t worked since you opened the door into a post. But these important factors that should be considered for a roadside emergency kit that is truly tailored to your needs. So buy the pre-made kit if you like, but consider it a starting point. Then account for the age and condition of your vehicle, your driving patterns, your frequent passengers (including 4-legged ones), and the climate in which you live.
Personal Safety Must-Haves
These basics are a great and easy place to start:
Canvas bag (to store supplies)
Bottled water (about 4 liters)
First aid kit (including burn relief)
Phone charger (or portable battery)
Flashlight (wind-up or packed with extra batteries)
Pen and paper
Roadside flares (glow sticks)
Car escape tools (seatbelt cutter, window breaker)
Car fire extinguisher (ABC type)
Car Fix Must-Haves
These basics are essential for getting a car up and running, at least long enough to find proper help. In an ideal world, we’d also learn how to use them. But even if we haven’t, the least we can do is carry them so that if a kind passerby offers help, we have the supplies they might need.
Rags (or paper towels)
Tool kit (screwdriver, pliers, vise grip, wrench)
Spare tire, pressure gauge, and jack
Tire sealant (like Fix-a-Flat)
Jumper cables (that suit your vehicle)
Spare car fuse
No-spill gas can
If you are likely to experience extreme weather conditions throughout the year, it’s best to revisit your roadside emergency kit each season so that you are equally prepared for hot, cold, and wet climate conditions. Here are a few supplies to consider:
Reflective wear (armbands)
Extra bottled water
Maximum Preparedness Must-Haves
If you don’t typically leave city streets and you have roadside assistance, these supplies may seem superfluous. But if you’re not likely to revisit your kit before your next road trip, why not build a thorough one the first time?
Emergency communications (satellite phone or battery-powered radio)
Hand-held GPS unit
Solar battery charger
Emergency car battery charger
Toiletries (including hand sanitizer and toilet paper)
This might be the most important section of all and it deserves your close attention. The most effective roadside emergency kit is one that is tailored to your needs. Remember to consider the age and condition of your vehicle, your driving patterns, your frequent passengers, and the climate in which you live.
Does your car window frequently get stuck? Does your car key ever fail? Are there medications or medical equipment you rely on daily? Do you frequently have a baby, senior, or animal in the car? Are bear sightings common within the area you commute? Based on these factors, for example, you may want to consider:
Extra car key
Dog food and water bowl
LED collar and leash
...and so on.
The best place to start is to set aside a date and time to build your kit. Make your own must-haves list and start checking it off. Most items are available both online and in-store.