Making an Auto Emergency Kit
What have you got in your car in case of an emergency? We're guessing you've got a spare tire and a lug wrench. You might even have a jack. When did you last check? Do you know how to use them? Have you got a flashlight that works? What if you get a flat at night? Have you got a way to let passers-by know that you need help? Your hazard lights will only work for so long before your battery dies. Are you prepared for the weather? What if you end up stuck on the side of the road for hours with no heater in a blizzard?
Sounds crazy, but these things happen all the time. Just last year half of Chicago was stranded on the road overnight during a blizzard. There are always people who are caught unprepared. You don't have to be one of them. Here is a list of things you can keep in your car or van to help you manage an emergency just a little better.
Water: You'll need to stay hydrated. You can find water in pouches or boxes that store well in cars, or you can just be sure to keep a couple of two-liter soda bottles filled with water in your car.
Food: Since your car is exposed to extreme temperatures, it's difficult to store food in your car, but you can keep hard candy and some power bars. You can also find nutrition bars that are actually designed to withstand hot and cold in your auto emergency kit.
Light: You'll want to be able see in the dark. Make sure you have extra batteries in case the first set dies. Extreme temps are hard on batteries, so you may find that even your new batteries won't last long. A multi-purpose emergency flashlight is ideal. Glow sticks are another great way to have some light, and they don't require batteries at all.
Jumper Cables: You'd be surprised how many people are driving around without a set of jumper cables. Car batteries wear down easier than you might imagine. Jumper cables offer a little more security for you and give you a way to help your fellow motorists.
Blankets: You may find yourself stranded for a long time. You may need to rest. It may be the middle of the winter. Make sure you can stay warm.
Small Games for the Family: Being stuck for a long time with the children can be difficult. It doesn't take long for them to start getting on each other's nerves. A few small games will help.
Tools: We suggest a small folding shovel in case you're stuck in snow or mud. You'll also want to have a few tools on hand in case the problem is something you can fix. Or you may just wish you had a can opener. An all-purpose knife will come in handy as well. Many people keep a small hatchet and some matches in case they need to set up a fire pit to keep warm.
First Aid Kit: If you're stranded in your car, there's a good chance you or someone with you is hurt. A good first aid kit with triangle bandages, ace bandages, adhesive bandages and ointment, and a few pain meds can make a huge difference.
About Flares: Road flares can be dangerous. Never use them for light in your car; they could start a fire, and the fumes are nauseating. They can also be a fire hazard outside the car if you place them near dry grass or if your car is leaking fuel. You can find electric "flares" that will work much better, but again, you'll need to be sure the batteries work.
Keep it All Contained: You'll want to be able to access your kit easily and keep it all together. There are several great auto organizers that you can use for this purpose. We like the Cargo Tote by High Road.
We hope you never have to use an emergency car kit, but take a minute and make one anyway-just in case. Chances are, you'll be really glad you did someday.