Build a Better Roadside Emergency Kit

March 26, 2015

If your luck runs out and you find yourself broken down on the side of the road, don’t be without a roadside emergency kit.

The Boy Scouts got it right when they adopted “be prepared” as their motto.  When it comes to just about anything in life, it’s always a little easier when you’re prepared.  This is especially true when it comes to emergencies and disasters.  An already difficult situation can be made even harder when you are left without any tools or supplies at your disposal.  So just how can you be prepared?  Enter the roadside emergency kit.

In recent years there’s been a lot of talk about emergency preparedness.  You’ve probably even seen those reality shows about people who have created elaborate bunkers and sunk all their money into freeze-dried rations so that they can survive anything from earthquakes to biological warfare.   But you don’t have to go to such extremes to buy yourself some peace of mind and save some hassle later on when you invest a little time and money into creating a roadside emergency kit.

It’s just a fact of life that cars break down.  Tires blow out, radiators overheat, gas tanks go empty, extreme weather lands us stranded on the side of the road, and a host of other things can happen to you in the car.  When the unfortunate happens you’ll be much better off if you have a few basic supplies at the ready.  Follow these easy tips to build a better roadside emergency kit and breathe a little easier.

First, let’s assume that you already have jumper cables, a spare tire, jack and a tire iron in your car because those are necessities (get them immediately if you don’t!).  Beyond these non-negotiable items, here is what you need. 

  1. Start with a good sturdy box or bin, or a heavy duty bag of some kind. You don’t want items rolling around loose or in shopping bags, they could be damaged.
  2. Design the kit to last year-round so that you don’t have to swap items out as the seasons change. It should also be customized to your geographic location. 
  3. The essential items include: flashlight and extra batteries, flares or reflective triangles, small fire extinguisher, first-aid kit, blanket, protective work gloves, duct tape, foam tire sealant, a multipurpose tool like a Leatherman or Swiss Army Knife, drinking water, non-perishable snacks like protein bars, tow strap or tow rope, a few rags, a quart of oil, extra windshield wiper fluid, a tire gauge, and a distress sign to signal for help.
  4. Essential items if you live in an area with snow include: a bag of cat litter, windshield ice scaper/brush, and a folding snow shovel.
  5. Some optional items that are a great idea to include are: a rain poncho (for changing a tire in a downpour), spare cash, emergency vest so you’re visible to traffic, emergency whistle, bungee cords, a change of clothes, extra cell phone charger, and some additional basic tools.


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