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Your Car Emergency Kit: Items to Include

Updated on August 30, 2016


Thanks for visiting my hub on auto emergency and roadside assistance kits. In essence, your car is going to break down - someday, somehow, someway, it's going to die on you, and not at a convenient place or time! With that in mind, there are certain essentials that you need to have in your car at all times. These items will form the basis of your auto emergency kit. That said, let's take a look at what you'll need.

(Also, please be sure to visit my hubs on Home Emergency Kits and Best Emergency Power Generators. Like emergency kits for your car, these are must-have essentials not in case something goes wrong, but when it does.)

Jumper Cables (aka Booster Cables)

In all honesty, I do not know how people can drive around without jumper cables in their car. It is a basic item that either you - or someone you know - will need at some point. Moreover, you look like an absolute putz when you're stalled on the side of the road and someone pulls over to help you, and you don't have jumper cables. Your would-be rescuer won't be able to help you, but as the old saying goes, "Heaven helps those who help themselves." Jumper cables are an absolute must, and - like insurance - it's practically irresponsible to drive around without them.

In addition, if you want to be incredibly self-reliant, it probably wouldn't hurt to have a jump starter in your emergency kit as well. These are usually powered by a rechargeable battery and can hold a charge for months. (In short, with a jump starter, you wouldn't even need the assistance of another car.) In my opinion, these are incredibly useful and well worth the cost of having at your fingertips when the time comes.

Gas Can

This is another indispensible item that you should have in your auto emergency kit. Running out of gas is something that has happened to almost everyone, and it's not a fun experience (although it's usually memorable). Even if you fill up every time your gas gauge reaches the halfway mark, having a gas can is essential. For instance, you may not personally need it, but maybe your teenager runs out of gas the first time you let them stay out driving past curfew. Or maybe your elderly mother's eyes are going bad and she misread the gauge and thought she had a full tank, so now you have to go get her. In brief, you've got to see the big picture, and right now that includes having a gas can in your roadside assistance and emergency kit.

Tire Repair: Sealants, Quick-Fixes and Air Compressors

Like running out of gas, almost everyone gets to experience a flat tire at least once in their driving life. There is almost nothing worse than leaving the office after a hard day's work - wanting nothing more than to get home and relax - only to find your tire rim practically resting on the ground when you reach your car.

Fortunately, there are products on the market that can help with this and have you up and running in minutes. There are lots of quick-fixes for flat tires, like Quick Spair and Fix-A-Flat, that can offer a short term solution until you get the tire patched. Likewise, a portable compressor can fill your tire with air again in a jiffy. Finally, if you have a slow leak, you can use a sealant to fix it. (Sometimes, using a sealant will resolve the issue and keep you from needing the have the tire patched at all.) And as stated, all of these can have you mobile again in no time.

Food and Water

Not all vehicle breakdowns will occur in balmy weather, populated areas or hospitable environments. You may find yourself stranded in a snowstorm 10 miles from the nearest town. Thus, just because we're talking about your vehicle, it doesn't mean that you shouldn't have the basic necessities of life on hand - namely, food and water.

Fortunately, you can find all kinds of emergency rations out there in the marketplace, and most of them have extremely long shelf lives - usually 5-to-7 years. Thus, you shouldn't have any issues finding rations to stock your emergency kit with. (You might want to lean towards food bars. They are usually fairly compact, and come loaded with enough calories to get you through some rough times.)

Even more than food, you'll want to have some emergency water handy. While a healthy person can actually go up to 8 weeks without food, the length of time they can go without water is considerably shorter: 3-5 days!. With that in mind, your auto emergency kit should absolutely have water in it.

Weather Gear: Ponchos, Thermal Blankets, etc.

In addition to the items mentioned above, there are some other products that are just good, practical items to have at hand. All-weather ponchos, for instance. Anyone who has ever had to change a flat or peek under the hood in the middle of a pounding thunderstrom will tell you that some type of all-weather covering would have been great.

Similarly, thermal blankets, hand warmers, and the like are items you might want to have at your disposal. (In fact, the thermal blankets shown are the #1 seller in three Amazon categories - two of them emergency-related.) I had a good friend years ago whose vehicle was always breaking down; I got stranded with him in snowstorms on no less than two occasions, and I would have given a pound of flesh, blood and bone for a thermal blanket each time.

Let There be Light: Flashlights, Light Sticks, etc.

Last but not least, every emergency kit of every type has to have a light source, for reasons that are intuitively understood and don't need an explanation. Flashlights are, of course, a necessity, but light sticks can be good for attracting attention, since some fo them can be seen up to a mile away.

(If you've ever been on a dark road at night with no streetlights, you'll have a full understanding and appreciation of why this one is so important. Most of us are so used to being in areas that are illuminated that we have no true idea of just how dark it can get at night.)

Car Emergency/Roadside Assistance Kits

Up to this point, we have been discussing car emergency kits from the standpoint of putting one together yourself. (Getting a gas can, a flashlight, emergency rations, and so on.) Of course, it may be simpler and easier just to buy one off the shelf. These are kits that come prepackaged with most (if not all) of the essentials mentioned above and more. IN addition, there's the sheer convenience that comes from simply buying it all in one lump-sum package as opposed to assembling your car emergency kit piecemeal.

The long and short of it, however, is that there are many ways of putting together a car emergency or roadside assistance kit. But how you put it together isn't particularly important. The most important thing is simply that you have one.

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