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Roadside Emergency Kits for Cars and Trucks

Updated on January 31, 2021
Emergency kit and extras
Emergency kit and extras | Source

Whether you are taking a quick trip to the store or driving across the country, a roadside emergency can happen at any time to even the best of drivers. Having a basic emergency kit can reduce stress and help you get back on the road faster.

Even for those with roadside-assistance coverage, keeping a roadside emergency kit in their vehicle should be a priority. Response times for roadside-assistance may vary depending on weather, traffic, and any other number of variables, which means having your own emergency kit will help you until further assistance arrives on the scene.

It is also important to periodically check your kit. I recommend checking your supplies monthly to ensure that everything works properly and is up to date. Having a flat spare tire for example, is not going to help you when you end up on the roadside with a flat tire.

Basic Roadside Kit:

These are just a few basic items that you should keep on hand in your car or truck in case of emergencies.

  • Cellular phone: Whether you use a cell phone on a regular basis or not, keeping one in your car along with a phone charger will allow you to call for help if you find yourself stranded on the roadside or in an accident. Even if you are in a place with no service you can still dial 911 for assistance.
  • Basic first aid kit: This kit should include enough items for any type of emergency. Bandages in various sizes, gauze, antiseptic cream, adhesive tape, antiseptic wipes, scissors, and over the counter pain killers such as Aspirin or Tylenol will ensure that you are prepared for any small cuts or abrasions as well as burns.
  • Jumper cables, jack, lug wrench and spare tire: Most cars and trucks come with a spare tire, jack and lug wrench and can be found using the owner's manual that comes with the vehicle. If you are unsure how to use any of these items the owner's manual will tell you how to use them.
  • Flashlight: Using one that is bright and weatherproof will allow you to be able to use it at night and in rain or snow without major difficulties. Having an extra bulb and batteries on hand will ensure that your flashlight will always be in working condition.
  • Pen and paper: These will come in handy if you ever need to leave your car on the roadside unattended. Writing a brief note and putting in on the windshield will let police know you are planning to come back shortly. It also comes in handy in case you need to jot down notes from an accident scene.
  • Small bills and change: Keeping twenty to thirty dollars in change and small bills will ensure you have money when you need it.


Straight anti-freeze does nothing to help your car and can damage the engine. In order to use anti-freeze properly you need to mix the anti-freeze with water to ensure proper freezing and boiling protection in your vehicle.

Road Kits for Long Distance Driving:

  • Gallon of Anti-Freeze: If your car overheats having anti-freeze on hand will ensure that the proper anti-freeze gets into your car and you won't have to flush it out later. You also will not need to wait around for a by passer to stop and help you out.
  • Basic Tool Kit: Wrenches, multi-tip screwdriver, a pliers, vise grips, a pocketknife, and a tire pressure gauge are all useful tools to keep in your vehicle in case of a roadside emergency. Not one tool will work for every emergency, but having these tools will greatly increase your chances of being able to fix most emergency situations.
  • GPS: Optional, but very useful especially if you are driving to someplace you have never been before. Most of today's GPS's will be able to locate near by restaurants, shops, and rest stops among other landmarks. This will come in handy if you ever find yourself in an emergency were you need to get to the closest city to get your vehicle fixed.
  • Bottled Water and Dried Foods: Dried foods such as granola bars, raisins, and other dried fruit will keep you from getting hungry if you find yourself stranded on the roadside for a few hours. Bottled water will keep you from becoming dehydrated as well as come in handy if your car over heats. Avoid leaving plastic water bottles in your car for drinking as the toxins can leak into the water with continued sun exposure.
  • Extra clothes and a blanket: If your car breaks down or the battery dies having a blanket and extra layers will keep you from getting cold at night or in the winter. If you have to try and fix your car in the rain having an extra pair of clothes to change into will keep you from getting sick or worse hypothermia.

Additional Items for Winter Driving:

  • Ice Scraper: Visibility is of utmost importance during the winter months. With swirling and blowing snow it is important to keep all windows free and clear of snow and ice.
  • Hand Warmers: Found at any sporting goods store, hand warmers are great for spot heating. You can buy hand or feet warmers in order to keep your hands and feet from freezing in colder temperatures. When blankets and extra layers are not enough, these little packets of warmth are a necessity.
  • Foldable Shovel: When you find your car or truck buried in snow having a small shovel will help in digging yourself out. It's much easier to dig out your vehicle if you have something other than your hands or ice scraper to dig with.
  • Tow Straps: For those unfortunate events when you end up in the ditch and cannot drive out, having tow straps will allow you to use another vehicle to help you get out rather than having to call a tow truck.

Not only is having these items in your car or truck important, but knowing how to use them is equally as important. Finding yourself in an emergency situation and then having to try and figure out how each tool or item works, especially at night is not ideal for anyone.

Along with making sure that foods and medications are up to date, make sure that each item in your safety kit is in proper working order. Keeping your car in working condition and having the tools for any emergency will greatly reduce your stress if a roadside emergency happens on your travels.

© 2012 Cholee Clay


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