Car Emergency Checklist
Anyone who drives a motor vehicle may potentially find themselves in an emergency while on the road. A vehicle-related situation may be as minor as a flat tire or a battery that's in need of charging. Other car emergencies can be more severe, while some may even potentially be life-threatening, such as a collision or being stranded in severe weather conditions or in a remote area. Whether major or minor, the types of emergencies that drivers may find themselves in are numerous and often can results in car accidents. For that reason, it is important that everyone who owns and drives a vehicle has an emergency kit.
An emergency car kit is a box, a bag, or some other type of container that is filled with items that drivers can use to repair their vehicle, alert drivers to their presence, or provide comfort or care to anyone who may be in the vehicle at the time. It is important that drivers know what must-have items to keep on hand every time they get behind the wheel of a car. It is just as important that drivers know what items are optional or seasonal, as certain items may be a necessity in the winter but have little importance in the summer months.
Must-Haves for Emergency Kits
- Store a well-stocked and regularly refreshed first aid kit to treat injuries that may occur while on the road. When building a kit for the car, include items such as aspirin, bandages, bug spray, tweezers, antibiotic ointment, and antiseptic spray.
- At a minimum, three flares or reflective triangles are necessary to alert other drivers to the presence of a stalled or stranded vehicle. They are particularly important in conditions with limited visibility.
- Jumper or booster cables are important for jump-starting vehicles with batteries that die unexpectedly.
- Although most cell phones feature a camera, keeping a disposable camera on hand can be beneficial, particularly if one's phone is damaged or runs out of power.
- A flashlight helps drivers see what's around them when stranded at night; however, it is also useful to see under the hood or beneath the vehicle.
- Keep extra batteries on hand to ensure that any items, such as the flashlight, are always operational.
- At least $20 in small bills may be necessary for drivers who find themselves in need of gas or food when power outages have taken down ATMs.
- A blanket is extremely useful for warmth when stranded in cold weather conditions. One can use mylar blankets to reflect heat or even catch rainwater.
- Store a multipurpose dry fire extinguisher in the emergency kit to put out fires that may occur as a result of an accident. These types of extinguishers are labeled as Class B and Class C and are for putting out electrical and gasoline fires.
- Check the pressure of all tires using a tire gauge and keep it handy.
- Protect one's hands from injury or cold by keeping a pair of gloves in the emergency kit.
- Spare chargers keep one's cell phone working, which is crucial when stranded and in need of assistance. A hand-cranked cell phone charger is an option that does not rely on the vehicle's battery.
Always have a pen and paper in the emergency kit or in the glove compartment to write down car insurance and other important information in the event of an accident. Also keep the name of a car accident lawyer handy in your car should an accident occur.
When traveling with a pet, always add pet-friendly items such as a collapsible bowl, food, water, a leash, pillow, and pet first-aid supplies. If preferred, create a separate pet emergency travel kit.
- Cat litter is an item that may prove helpful in snow or ice or whenever additional traction is necessary.
- Keep reflective tape on hand to improve visibility when stranded at night or in dark conditions.
- Tire puncture sealant is a useful short-term fix for punctured tires and can eliminate the need for immediate replacement.
- Keep duct tape on hand to help with a number of problems that may occur in the event of a car emergency.
- Rain ponchos keep drivers dry when replacing tires or anytime they are outside of their vehicle during inclement weather.
- Drivers living in areas that suffer from winter weather conditions should keep an ice scraper and snow brush in their vehicle's emergency kit to clear windshields and improve visibility.
- An umbrella is a must-have accessory during the rainy months. Keeping a compact umbrella in the car serves as a backup on days where rainstorms are unexpected or when one's regular umbrella is forgotten or broken.
- A collapsible shovel can be useful for clearing paths or shoveling snow away from tires.
- Add energy drinks and non-perishable foods such as energy bars, almonds, or trail mix to the emergency kit before traveling long distances. Bottled water should also be included to help prevent dehydration.
- When making a car emergency kit, add warm clothing for the winter, such as a sweater or a hat.