According to national auto club information, one in three motorists end up broken down on the side of the road during a trip. Breakdowns are more likely to happen in extreme weather, especially extreme heat or cold. If a driver takes roads through remote or seldom traveled roads, help can be hours or days away – unless you’re prepared.
If you’re planning a car trip, make sure that your car or vehicle is ready for the road. Get it checked by a certified mechanic to make sure that the brakes, tires, cooling system, air conditioning and other systems are in top working condition.
A car emergency kit is something that most drivers don’t think about until they need it – and then it’s too late. A kit can be customized to individual needs, but here are some things to put on your shopping list for a car emergency kit:
- Plastic bin or container for kit items
- Cell phone charger
- Water – one gallon per person
- Snacks – energy bars, unsalted nuts, dried fruit
- First aid kit, including special medications
- Battery powered or crank radio/NOAA weather radio
- Flashlight and headlamp (hand-crank flashlights are ideal for emergency use)
- Tool kit (Screwdrivers (straight & phillips head), pliers, diagonal cutters, knife, adjustable wrench and specialty wrenches, vice grips)
- Duct tape
- Tire sealant/tire inflator
- Tire gauge
- Tow strap
- Work gloves
- Rags or paper towels
- Waterless cleaner or wipes
- Road flares
- Reflective hazard triangles
- Jumper cables or portable battery booster
- Pre-mixed anti-freeze
- Motor oil
- Windshield washer fluid
- Road atlas or maps
- Fold-up shovel
- Cash – include change for tolls/meters
- Help sign
- Rain poncho
- Reflective safety vest
- Safety glasses or goggles
- ABC type fire extinguisher
- Copies of insurance card and vehicle registration
- Extra water
- Spare sunglasses
- Wide brim hat
- Window sun shades
- Change of clothing – long sleeve shirt, full length pants, etc.
- Blanket or sleeping bag
- Snow shovel
- Sand or kitty litter for traction on ice
- Ice scraper
- Change of clothing – long sleeve shirt, full length pants, jacket, etc.
Finally, know if your car has a full size or emergency size spare tire and know where its located in or underneath your vehicle. Some cars no longer come with spare tires. Find where the tire jack and other tire changing tools are kept in your car. They can be in the trunk, behind or under a seat or inside a hidden access panel underneath carpeting. Find out before you need these items.
If you have a smartphone, download mapping and other travel apps and practice using them at home. REMEMBER: Distracted driving of any sort is the #1 cause of accidents. If you have to take a call, send a text or look up a restaurant, find a rest stop, take the next exit or pull off the road BEFORE using electronic devices.