There will be millions of people traveling on the road this 2015 holiday season. If you’re just 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 is safe while out on the road.
If you’re going to be 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.
The best piece of advice I or anyone can give you to minimize the risk of a roadside emergency due to mechanical breakdown is to make sure you’ve completed all the required preventive maintenance on your vehicle. You can see what services are due at what time by checking in your vehicle’s owner’s manual. Some emergencies such as passenger illness, vehicle collisions and punctured tires can happen at any time. The best you can do is prepare for the worse and hope for the best.
What You Should Have in an Emergency Car Kit
You should always have a small collection of items in your vehicle in case you ever run into an emergency on the road. Some of the bare necessities are:
Basic Roadside Emergency Car Kit
- Flashlight – During the winter you have less hours of daylight so 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 back-up power and jump your car if ever needed. Make sure it’s fully charged before beginning your road trip.
- Flares, Reflective Triangle or Warning Flashers – Gives other drivers a “heads-up” you’re broke down or stuck on the side of the road.
- Emergency Medical Kit or First Aid Kit – Non prescription pain killers, bandages and ointments for any kind of minor medical emergency.
- Small compact fire extinguisher – a dry powder fire extinguisher labeled “1A10BC” or “2A10BC”. This kind of extinguisher can handle car related fires as well as fires caused by flammable gas and liquids.
- Jack, lug wrench, portable compressor, plug kit, and/or 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 very bad 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 are you going to call for help without a way to do so?
You can add whatever you want to your roadside emergency kit. Some additional items you may want to consider are:
- Hand cleaner
- Spare fuses
- Clean rags
- Disposable camera (smart phone)
- 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
- Basic tools including 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.
What You Should Add to an Emergency Car Kit for the Winter
There are only a few items you should add to your kit for winter. A good time to do this is your first oil change of the fall. 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:
Items 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 a sporting good stores, ski-shops and many convenience stores.
- Windshield scraper – Instead of using your windshield wipers, have a nice, well-built ice scraper. Preferably one that has 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/or 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 to have. You’ll be able to easily dig your way out of your problems and being compact easier to stow.
- Nonperishable food and water – Take enough food and water to provide one meal for you and you 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.
Competition Always Gets You the Best New Car Price
When negotiating a new car’s price, it’s important to know the dealer invoice price and what other people are paying for the same vehicle in your local area. Otherwise, you won’t know what’s a good price to pay for the vehicle. 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.