Basic Road Emergency Kit
(*not for wilderness survival!)
Duane J. Warren
AAA reports that every year one out of three drivers will have a road emergency: a flat tire, breakdown, or collision. You cannot be prepared for everything but stocking some
basic supplies might resolve the problem, keep you alive, or at least make you safer until help arrives. You can purchase pre-packaged road emergency kits at stores or online
(Cost $70 or more) but the supplies included are often shoddy, impractical, or not very complete. Save money by assembling your own kit and storing items in a plastic crate in
your truck where the supplies will be kept together and not be lost. Here is a list of supplies suggested by AAA and other sources of what you might want to include in your
personal emergency kit.
BEFORE YOU GET IN THE CAR
→ Consider roadside assistance/ towing insurance. AAA offers both with 24 hour support. Most auto insurance agents offer towing insurance options for just a dollar or more but you usually need to ask for it.
→ Have your phone fully charged. Sometimes this is as simple has keeping a charger at home, at work, and
in your car. Some hand cranked emergency flashlights now can have USB ports to recharge your phone. Be sure you have an extra phone cable to connect with!
→ File a flight plan if you are making any unusual or long trips. A flight plan is filed by airplane pilots to let others know where they are going so if they go missing searchers know where to look. When making any trip outside of your usual routine, let someone know where you are going and when you plan to arrive.
SUSTENANCE & PROTECTION
→ A few bottles of water
→ High energy bars (be sure to keep an eye on the expiration dates)
→ A roll of hard candy (if someone is Diabetic)
→ A blanket for warmth and first aid (if someone is in shock). A wool blanket is best because it works even if wet
→ A plastic rain poncho with hood
→ Pair of work gloves
→ A small first aid kit with bandages, aspirin, antiseptic wipes, sunburn lotion, etc. You can usually purchase one at your local pharmacy for $15-20
BASIC AUTO EMERGENCY EQUIPMENT
→ Jumper cables. Make sure they are at least ten feet long with at least an 8 gauge rubber coating. If you do not know how to safely use them, you should have printed directions attached.
→ Spare tire and jack. You would be amazed at how many people purchase used and new cars assuming these are in place. Make sure at least a few times a year you check the pressure and make sure all parts are in place to use the jack.
→ Aerosol foam tire sealant, such as Fix-A-Flat. It can seal a small leak and
inflate your tire. Follow the directions on the can and consider it only a temporary fix to get to the nearest station to properly inspect and repair your tire.
→ A small tool kit with basic tools. Consider a motorcycle repair kit usually kept in a rolled up pouch. One example is the Apollo Precision Tools DT9774 Auto Tool Kit (56-Piece in a zippered case) on Amazon. Cost is about $30 new or $17 used.
→ Duct tape
→ A quart of motor oil that meets your car's specifications, with a few paper funnels from your local gas station.
→ A small empty
gas can. You don't want to carry gas all the time in your trunk. It isn't safe and will make everything else in your trunk smell like gas.
→ A tire gauge.
→ An extra ice scraper if you live in any part of this great country that gets cold enough for ice.
→ A flashlight with extra batteries. You might want to consider one that is hand cranked, that never needs batteries, and has a USB port to recharge your cell phone. The Red Cross sells one on Amazon for about $15
→ Self standing reflective safety triangles. Most prepackaged Auto emergency kits only have one and you really should have three. They should be placed 50 feet apart to warn oncoming traffic of your stalled vehicle. Amazon sells an AutoLover Warning Reflective Safety Triangle for $6.99
→ A small fire extinguisher. It should be rated "B" and "C" by the National Fire Protection Agency. "B" covers flammable liquids and "C" covers electrical fires. Ideally the extinguisher should fit under a seat or be kept in the passenger section. Walmart sells one for $15
Lastly, if you really
want to be prepared, keep an envelope in the glove box for each regular driver or passenger labeled "In Case of Emergency." Intended for medical personnel, it can include emergency contacts, basic health information, a list of maintenance medications, Advance Directives, and organ donation documents. I know this sounds morbid, but too often emergency personnel do not have time to play detective when seconds count.
Keep your emergency supplies in a plastic crate in the truck, covered with your emergency blanket. Try at least once a year to check your supplies and remind yourself that they are there if you need them. Hopefully you never will!