Roadside emergencies are always a surprise, but a little planning and preparation can make it easier to handle. Every driver can benefit from a vehicle emergency kit. While a vehicle first aid kit is a great start, you can get a lot more utility with a vehicle emergency kit customized just for you. Here’s how to build an emergency car kit and then customize it for your needs.
Basic Emergency Kit
Every driver needs to have a few basic emergency kit items in their car emergency kit.. You can find almost everything you need at your local NAPA Auto Parts store. Here’s a shopping list:
- Duct tape – handy for emergency repairs
- Jumper cables or Jump box – dead batteries happen
- Fire extinguisher – car fires happen fast
- First aid kit – be prepared for accidents
- Flares – universal signal for help
- Flashlight – night time breakdowns happen
- Gloves – protect your hands
- Multitool – easier to carry than a tool box
- Small towel – always useful
- Tire sealant – for small punctures
- USB battery pack and phone charger cable – your phone is your life line
Take a few minutes to find places to stash everything in your vehicle. The spare tire and jack area are both great for storing small things out of the way. Of course there is always the tool box and center console. You may also try using a plastic tote bin or a tool bag. The idea is to make it easy to keep your emergency items with you without being in the way. Your emergency kit is no good to you at home in the garage if you took it out to make room for more luggage.
If you have an electric vehicle you probably want to pack a portable 110v charger. Yes it is painfully slow compared to a DC fast charger, but it is better than running out of juice on the road. Sometimes regardless of your electric vehicle road trip preparation, you can end up on a detour or other unplanned route. Better to be prepared.
Now that you know how to pack an emergency kit for car, truck or SUV here are a few more additions based on typical driver situations:
If you are going off the beaten path you need to add a few more things to your emergency kit. In case you get stuck you want an off road recovery kit (if you have a winch) and a folding shovel. Throw in a high-lift jack if you can fit one as it can also be used as a comealong in a pinch. A ratchet strap can be handy for all kinds of trail side repairs. Throw in a tube of JB Weld SteelStik in case you bash something important and need it to hold together long enough to get back to the paved road.
Highway Driving Emergency Kit
Heading out on the long open roads you might end up with long stretches between civilization. If you don’t have a spare tire, consider picking one up as tire sealant is worthless if the tire is shredded. Pick up a small tool kit that has the basics just in case you need to perform a roadside repair. Also pack an assortment of fuses (check your owner’s manual for the correct style).
Winter Driving Emergency Kit
A breakdown is more daunting when you throw in the chill of winter to the mix, so your winter emergency car kit needs a few extras. Add a blanket and gloves to your kit along with a small candle and matches. The candle can create a surprising amount of heat when burned carefully for short periods of time. Also add some bottled water and simple food like crackers or granola bars. You want to be prepared for the worst case scenario of being stuck somewhere for a long time.
Being prepared is the best way to take a bad situation down a few notches. Make sure to familiarize yourself with all the items in your emergency vehicle kit so you know how to use them. Also make sure to check items periodically for expiration dates and replace as necessary.
Check out all the tools & equipment available on NAPAOnline or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on how to make an emergency kit for your car, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA Auto Parts store.
Photo courtesy of Unsplash.
With an automotive writing career spanning over two decades, Brian has a passion for sharing the automotive lifestyle. An avid DIYer he can usually be found working on one of his many project cars. His current collection includes a 1969 Olds Delta 88 convertible, BMW E46 sedan, and a slant-6 powered 1975 Plymouth Duster.