You’re driving along without a care in the world, listening to your favorite album, when all of a sudden your vehicle starts sputtering and making a terrible, unrecognizable sound. You pull over and that’s when your engine starts smoking. This isn’t good. Now what?
Well, hopefully you carry an emergency roadside kit in your trunk and it has tools and equipment that can, maybe not fix your issue, but at the very least, help keep you safer and comfortable while you wait for help to arrive.
A standard road emergency kit usually comes with items like flares and a first-aid kit. But if you’re constructing your own kit, what are some useful items that you may forget or not think about that could, indeed, prove quite valuable should you find yourself in a difficult roadside situation?
As the name implies, this critical tool can be used for a wide range of tasks. A good multi-tool includes needlenose and regular pliers, scissors, a saw, wire cutters, a screwdriver, bottle opener, and knife, among other features. You can use this versatile instrument for a wide range of functions, and it should be a prime ingredient in any road emergency kit.
All-purpose Duty Gloves
Although many kits come with a pair of gloves, investing in a heavy-duty pair of all-purpose duty gloves is a wise choice. When dealing with any vehicle concern on the road, you’re likely to run into a situation where you need to keep your hands clean, or protect them from dangerous metal or even heat (think accidentally touching a hot engine).
Bright Orange Vest
Should you find yourself in a roadside emergency, the most important thing is to keep yourself safe. The road is a dangerous place, with vehicles speeding past you as you try to change your flat. To help protect yourself and alert others to your presence, not only should you light flares and place them near your vehicle, but you should also wear a bright orange safety vest if you’ll be spending any time outside your vehicle. And this holds even truer the darker it is outside. Anything you can do to alert others to your presence could potentially be a lifesaver.
Most people think of using duct tape around the house or work shed, but this do-it-all makes a great item for your emergency road kit. It can be used to temporarily fix and hold together just about anything.
You may only have one or two items in your emergency kit that require batteries, but if that flashlight is dead just when you need it, you’ll be glad you packed in extra batteries, and can get your torch back up and running to see what you need to see.
No one thinks about their car battery until it’s dead and he or she is stranded at the worst possible moment, like when you need to pick up the little ones from school. If you don’t stock a pair of jumper cables in your trunk, you’re stuck waiting on someone who does have them.
If the unthinkable happens and you find yourself in a worst-case scenario, the RES-Q-ME tool can save your life. This small, personal safety tool is designed for emergency situations, and can be used to pop out windows and cut through seat belts in order to extricate yourself from your vehicle. You hope you never find yourself in this type of situation, but if you do, you’ll be very happy you have this simple, yet effective tool.
Those who live in year-round warm climates will never know the hardships experienced by seasoned, winter-climate people. Snow, ice and cold all present a new set of issues for cars and travelling, and with those issues, another set of tools is needed to combat them. Let’s check out some winter-specific items to pack in your road emergency kit.
Ice Scraper & Snowbrush
There’s nothing like seeing an unprepared driver furiously scraping their ice-covered windshield with an old CD case, or brushing several inches of snow off their car with their arm. Neither of these remedies is recommended. Instead, if you have to deal with true winter weather, get yourself an ice scraper and snowbrush—they often come as one.
Should your car break down in the winter and you’re stuck waiting—for who knows how long—for the tow truck to come, wrapping up in a blanket won’t be the same as the heat in your car running, but it will at least provide a layer of warmth while you wait.
If you find yourself stuck in the snow, a shovel can be used to help dig out your tires so that you can get yourself back up and running and on the road.
Sand, Kitty Litter, or Rock Salt
Sometimes, simply shoveling around your tires isn’t enough to extricate your car from being stuck. Ice, mud, muck, and other slippery surfaces can make it virtually impossible to go. However, applying a generous layer of a coarse substance like sand or kitty litter can help your tires gain the traction they need to move.
Rope or Chain
In the same category as the sand and kitty litter, a rope or chain is often useful for pulling a vehicle out of the snow or ditch.
Extra Windshield Washer Fluid
The winter brings with it snow, slush, dirt, grime and all sorts of annoying substances that muck up your windshield and make it difficult to see. And it can be extremely dangerous if you run out of windshield wiper fluid and aren’t able to see clearly as you drive. Windshield wiper fluid is inexpensive and doesn’t take up much room, so make sure you keep an extra bottle in your trunk just in case you need it.
Hand, Foot, & Toe Warmers
These handy tools can easily be overlooked, but if you ever find yourself stuck on the side of the road in the winter, hand and foot warmers will keep your extremities warm for a while, until you’re hopefully able to make your way to permanent shelter.
Not really thought of as an item you’d find in a road emergency kit, nevertheless, you should always keep a pair of sunglasses close by, especially in the winter when the glare of the sun on the snow is often blinding.
As you venture out onto the roads, make sure you invest your time, energy, and money into either purchasing a complete emergency road kit or creating your own kit with specific items that fit your needs. Although most kits include many of the same safety items like flares, a flashlight, and a first-aid kit, there are no rules on what can go into the kit, so think about your driving patterns and needs, and stock your kit with any item you think may prove beneficial should you find yourself in a bad situation.