How to Pack a Roadside Emergency Kit

A roadside emergency car kit can help you in case you have a vehicle breakdown.

Millions of people will travel on the road during the holiday season. If you’re running back and forth to the mall or loading up the family to drive a few hundred miles to grandma’s house, you need to make sure you and your family are safe while on the road.

If you’re traveling on the roads and highways this holiday season, make sure you protect yourself and your family with a well-stocked emergency car kit. Even if you’re not straying too far from the house, it’s not a bad idea to have a small supply of emergency items handy in case your vehicle breaks down or gets stuck during bad weather or waiting on emergency personnel to clear an accident.

Pre-made vs. Homemade Roadside Emergency Car Kits

The best advice I or anyone can give you to minimize the risk of a roadside emergency due to mechanical breakdown is to ensure you’ve completed all the required preventive maintenance on your vehicle. You can see what services are due by checking your vehicle’s owner’s manual. Some emergencies such as passenger illness, vehicle collisions, and punctured tires can happen anytime. The best you can do is prepare for the worse and hope for the best.

Pre-assembled auto emergency kits are an excellent place to start. However, assembling a personal roadside aid package has some significant advantages.

  • Make it fit the weather in your region. Perhaps you’ll never require an ice scraper or a battery-powered fan. Add or remove items from the list that you know you’ll need for your trip.
  • Include goods that are appropriate for you and your family. If you have children or pets, you can include items like diapers, dried food, dog treats, or a water dish.
  • Make several kits or have backups on hand. Instead of purchasing many pre-made kits, you may construct multiple automobile safety kits simultaneously or keep additional components on hand in case you run out.

What is the most significant advantage of making a personal car emergency kit? You’ll be able to tell what’s inside. You purchased and packed it, so you know what’s included and isn’t.

What You Should Have in a Roadside Emergency Kit

It would help if you always had a small collection of items in your vehicle if you ever run into an emergency on the road. Some of the bare necessities are:

Basic “must-haves” roadside emergency car kit:

  • Emergency Medical Kit or First Aid Kit – for any minor medical emergency.
    • Band-Aids
    • Hand sanitizer
    • Antiseptic
    • Antibiotic ointment
    • Bug spray
    • Nonprescription pain killers
    • Cotton balls
    • Gauze pads
    • Tweezers
    • Bandana
    • Ace bandage
  • Flashlight – During the winter, you have fewer hours of daylight, so that a flashlight would be a good investment. You may want to look into a head-mounted light; this will keep both hands free to use during tire changes, etc. Check the batteries in your flashlight at least once a year. (when you change your windshield wipers in the fall)
  • Portable Battery Booster or Jumper Cables – Mini-jumpers can provide backup power and jump your car if needed. Make sure it’s fully charged before beginning your road trip.
  • Flares, Reflective Triangle, or Warning Flashers – Gives other drivers a “heads-up” if you’re broken down or stuck on the side of the road.
  • Small compact fire extinguisher – a dry powder fire extinguisher labeled “1A10BC” or “2A10BC”. This kind of extinguisher can handle car-related fires and fires caused by flammable gas and liquids.
  • Jack, lug wrench, portable compressor, plug kit, and foam tire sealant – Several of the later model vehicles do not have a spare tire. You will want to educate yourself on how to use the car’s “mobility kit” and how to contact roadside assistance if you have a nasty flat tire.
  • Cellular phone – Most people have a cell phone; However, if you don’t, you should have one with a charger in your emergency kit. How will you call for help without a way to do so?

Roadside Emergency Kit Secondary Items

You can add whatever you want to your roadside emergency kit. Some additional items you may want to consider are:

  • Gloves
  • Hand cleaner
  • Spare fuses
  • Clean rags
  • Disposable camera (smartphone)
  • Roadside-assistance number or auto-club card
  • $10 – $20 in change and small bills
  • Pad of paper and pen

If you do a lot of driving or long-distance driving, you may also want to consider adding these items to your kit:

  • Extra Clothes
  • Rain Poncho
  • Small Tarpaulin
  • GPS navigation system
  • CB radio
  • Nonperishable food and water
  • Coolant hose repair kit with tape
  • Duct tape
  • Essential tools include a set of sockets and open-end wrenches, a multi-tip screwdriver, and pliers. Even if you don’t know how to work on a vehicle, someone who stops may know how if he had some tools handy.

How to Pack an Emergency Roadside Kit

When you’ve gathered all of your supplies, we recommend the following technique for assembling a well-organized and simple-to-use emergency kit:

  • Use a transparent plastic container with a tight-fitting lid.
  • Items should be placed neatly, preferably in a single layer, so they are simple to view and grab.
  • Please make a list of things and attach it to the box’s exterior.
  • Pay attention to expiration dates and replace everything that expires or runs out.

The ideal location to put your emergency kit is in your trunk. Consider using bungee cords to keep your gear from moving around while driving if you own a truck or hatchback.

What you Should Add to an Emergency Kit for the Winter

There are only a few items you should add to your kit for winter. Your first fall oil change is an excellent time to do this. You can change your windshield wiper blades and check all the contents of your emergency kit.

These items will help you, especially for long-distance travel in inclement weather during the fall and winter months. Add these items to be well prepared for the cold and the dark:

Things to add to a roadside emergency kit for Fall and Winter driving

  • Chemical hand, chest, and feet warmers – These little warmers are invaluable during cold weather. You can find these at sporting goods stores, ski shops, and many convenience stores.
  • Windshield scraper – Instead of using your wipers have a nice, well-built ice scraper. Preferably one with a scraper on one side and a brush on the other to clear ice from the windshield and snow off the vehicle itself.
  • Tow strap and tire chains – Don’t wait until there’s a foot of snow outside and it’s 15 degrees outside. Practice putting chains on your tires and a tow strap on your vehicle while it’s still nice outside.
  • A bag of kitty litter – Spreading litter around the tires can increase traction and get your vehicle unstuck or moving if on a slippery slope.
  • Extra clothes, blankets, and winter hat – If you run out of fuel and your battery dies, there’s no way your vehicle will be able to produce heat. The additional clothing or blankets will help you and your family stay warm if you have to wait a long time for a tow in inclement weather.
  • Small compact or folding shovel – If your vehicle gets stuck in the snow, a shovel is an incredible tool. You’ll be able to quickly dig your way out of your problems and be compact and easier to stow.
  • Nonperishable food and water – Take enough food and water to provide one meal for you and your passengers. More depending on how far out and remote you plan on traveling.
  • Reflective safety vest – Make sure you buy one that will fit over your winter coat and allow you to be seen from 300 feet away.

Shopping for a New Vehicle?

Before visiting a dealership to buy a new car, it’s essential to know the dealer invoice price and what other people are paying for the vehicle in your local area.  Otherwise, you won’t know a reasonable price to pay for any car you’re looking to buy.

Learn how to have dealers compete with each other online before ever stepping foot inside a dealership to guarantee you pay the best new car price and avoid any modern-day car dealer scams.

I highly recommend using an online referral service such as Ryde Shopper or Motor Trend.  Their quotes will automatically include any discounts or cash-back incentives currently available in the marketplace.

About the author
Carlton Wolf is the author and founder of Auto Cheat Sheet.My name is Carlton Wolf, and I’ve been in the car business since 1994, both retail and wholesale. I created the Auto Cheat Sheet to better educate buyers about the deceptive sales practices used by many dealerships throughout the country. Please understand that not all car dealers are dishonest. However, you never know who you’ll be dealing with, though. I’m willing to share my knowledge and experience with anyone who listens. Keep in mind that I’m a car guy, not a writer.