ArborMotion's Recommendations for Emergency Car Kits
Getting stranded on the roadside due to a vehicle issue may not seem to be as serious of a risk nowadays as so many drivers are equipped with cell phones and have access to roadside assistance. However, neither of these saving graces will do you any good if your vehicle breaks down in an area without cell phone coverage, or if you forgot to charge your phone that day. Furthermore, there is also no guarantee as to how long your roadside assistance may take to arrive.
We recently spoke with a lady whose car got stuck in the mud around 7:00 p.m. at a campground, and the tow truck could not come out her way until the following morning. Thankfully, she and her husband still had their tent with them! It’s also easy to fall into the trap of thinking that your vehicle is invincible due to an extensive warranty and/or how impeccably you maintain it. Still, any vehicle (old or new) can end up on the side of the road due to any number of issues: a tire blow-out, a dead battery, an overheating engine, an empty gas tank, a collision with wildlife, etc.
Sure, not all roadside issues are “emergencies,” but even the simplest of repairs can take “too long” if it’s 95 degrees outside and your child doesn’t have anything to drink. With that being said, having an emergency kit in your vehicle is very important for your family’s safety, and the contents of your vehicle’s emergency kit should be updated on a seasonal basis. And now that it’s summer, we have compiled a list for you as far as what an ideal summer vehicle emergency kit should contain for the next few months …
• Cellular Phone & Charger—Most people always have their phones on them anyway, but the phone is useless without power. Be sure to always have your phone charger with you! Also, the “no service” message that appears on your cell in certain areas may not always be accurate. Go ahead and try the call anyway and you may be surprised. Once your call goes through, keep in mind that the operator may not automatically receive your phone number and/or location information when you’re calling from a cell phone. Be sure to give them your information and location first! (Texting 911 is currently a work in progress as well; please visit the FCC site for more information.)
• Fire Extinguisher—You need a fire extinguisher that is rated for Class B fires (flammable and/or explosive liquids) and Class C fires (electrical). You can find more information on portable fire extinguishers at the National Fire Protection Association’s website.
• Battery-Powered Warning Light, Reflective Triangles or Flares—In order to warn oncoming traffic of your roadside presence (particularly at night). Don’t assume that your vehicle’s hazard lights will suffice as they won’t be an option if your battery is dead.
• First-Aid Kit—Should include a variety of bandages along with gauze, antiseptic cream, aspirin, any necessary medications, etc.
• Jumper Cables or Portable Battery Charger—Jumper cables are pretty standard, but unless another vehicle is present they won’t be of much assistance. Portable battery chargers are becoming more popular these days; hence, more affordable as well.
• Tire Gauge—Ideally, you should already have one of these in your vehicle as the pressure in your tires should be checked at least once a month, and don’t forget to check your spare tire as well! Also note that tire pressure changes with outside temperature (if the temperature gets 10 degrees warmer, then your tire pressure will increase by 1 psi).
• Flashlight—Something so simple that can make a huge difference. It’s best to have a waterproof flashlight, and be sure to have extra batteries on hand as well.
• Tools—Be sure to know where all of the items needed for changing a tire are located and know how to use them. It’s also a good idea to have some basic tools with you as well—wrenches, screwdrivers, pliers, duct tape, etc.
• Disposable Camera—In case your cell phone is dead, it’s helpful to have a disposable camera in case you need to take photos following an accident for insurance purposes.
• Drinking Water & Nonperishable Food Items
• Gloves and Rags
• Roadside Assistance Information
• GPS Navigation System or Maps/Atlas
• Rain Poncho
• Tow Strap/Rope
Obviously, this is just a basic outline of a summer vehicle emergency kit, and you should add to it as you see fit based on your family’s needs. There are also many prepackaged emergency car kits available for purchase through various retailers. In any case, once you have this emergency kit in your vehicle, it’s imperative that you periodically check your kit equipment in order to ensure that it is in good and working condition.
All in all, having an emergency vehicle kit can help increase your safety, ease your worries, and potentially get you back on the road faster. Please pardon the cliché, but it IS better to be safe than sorry.