10 Essential Items for Your Car’s Emergency Kit
Heading out on the road can be a necessity, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although today’s cars are safer than ever, keeping an emergency kit in your vehicle is still absolutely essential. Your route doesn’t need to include a barren desert or isolated mountain range; foul weather or an errant driver can strand your vehicle in a place no one can find you. Even small accidents and medical emergencies can quickly become dangerous on the clearest of days. Here are 10 essentials to keep in your car’s emergency kit:
1) First Aid and COVID-19 Essentials
A first aid kit made specifically for your car is a must when you’ve had an accident and help is minutes or hours away. Foil emergency blankets can keep you warm if you’re stranded on a cold night. A whistle can alert rescue personnel if your car has rolled down a hill. A compass can help you find your way if you become lost without GPS reception.
With the COVID-19 pandemic still ongoing, extra masks, gloves, and sanitizer are among the most important items to add to your kit. Be sure to include smaller masks for children if younger ones will be traveling with you.
2) Road Flares
Pulling your car onto the road shoulder due to a flat tire, accident, or empty tank is a common but potentially dangerous driving situation. With all the distracted driving going on these days, it is essential to warn other cars who fail to anticipate a stopped car.
Fortunately, the old days of using flammable flares are over. LED flares greatly increase your safety by attaching to your fender or sitting next your bumper. The eye-catching strobes should help alert drivers if your hazard lights don’t do the job. If your battery and/or alternator have failed rendering your car lights useless, any type of flare could literally be a lifesaver.
3) Jumper Cables or Portable Power Station
Although our cars are getting better and better at warning us when our batteries are about to fail, sometimes batteries just quit on us for various reasons. Jumper cables are essential to have because you can’t rely on every passerby to volunteer a set.
Better yet, portable power stations have become more affordable and allow you to jumpstart your battery without having to flag down a stranger or call a friend. Just remember to keep the internal batteries topped off every few months to ensure these devices are helpful when needed.
4) Bottled Water and Snacks
Whether your car is stuck somewhere in blistering heat or freezing cold weather, having at least a one-day supply of food and water can make all the difference in your mental and physical well-being. Energy bars and a couple gallons of purified water take up little trunk space and are always essential safety equipment. In a pinch, a gallon of water could be enough to get your overheated car to the next service station. Just be sure to let your car’s engine cool before opening the valve on your radiator.
A good flashlight is worth its weight in gold if you’re stuck on the side of the road in the dark of night. It could be impossible to perform the simplest of tire changes without one. It’s a good idea to have at least one flashlight in your car that’s of the hand crank variety in case the battery has been sitting for years.
6) Car Escape Tool
If your car has slid off the road during an emergency maneuver, you could easily find yourself stuck inside with only seconds or minutes to safely get out. This is one tool you definitely need to keep within reach, preferably inside your car’s center console. Most of these tools tend to have two separate instruments. The first is a cutting edge for slicing through a seat belt if you can’t release it. The second is a metal point for breaking glass if you are unable to exit through a door.
7) Flat Tire Inflation Canister
Although an inflation canister is sometimes not the best substitute for changing your own tire with a spare one, it can often get you on the road more quickly. This is vital on the side of a busy road where serious accidents can occur and minutes count. Also, weather and road conditions can make it difficult to change a tire by yourself. One of these canisters can solve a simple flat in just minutes and have you on your way to where a professional can handle the rest.
8) Situational Supplies
If you’re a new resident of Nevada or spending your first winter in North Dakota, you need to adjust your emergency kit accordingly. Sunscreen and hats will be essential emergency items in the former while snow chains and a good pair of boots will be necessities if you live in the latter.
9) Simple Tool Kit
Even if you have no mechanical skills, a well-made multitool is a must in your car’s emergency kit. From screwdrivers and pliers to files and bottle openers, you’ll find yourself reaching for one of these in plenty of non-emergency situations. Just remember to put it back in your emergency kit when you’re finished.
In addition, a roll of duct tape in your kit is cheap insurance for a number of roadside calamities. If your car hits a deer, sometimes you can tape up a broken fender or bumper in a temporary fashion to get you back on the road to a safer location. Duct tape also has many first aid uses and can repair torn clothing such as jackets or pants so you can keep warm until help arrives.
10) Mobile Phone Charger
Your first line of defense on the road is your mobile phone. While you aren’t guaranteed to have reception if you’re stranded, you can sometimes take a hike to get within range. Staying charged on the go will become very important in this situation.
There are several phone chargers available that range from cheap to more fancy. The less expensive options could work fine in an emergency situation, but you need to remember to keep them charged every few months. More expensive chargers include solar or hand crank charging options, and often include a built-in flashlight or radio.
Who is Answer Financial?
Staying focused while driving is a smart way to prevent emergencies, but some are unavoidable—and that’s why you also need insurance. Answer Financial has helped nearly four million customers find the right coverage for their vehicles in the event of an accident or natural disaster. We work with more than 30, top-rated carriers to save our customers an average of $504 a year on their insurance needs.*
By visiting our website, shoppers can quickly compare rates and customize coverages from multiple insurance companies in minutes. Answer Financial can help smart drivers like you compare, buy and save on insurance.
January 7, 2021
*Results of a national survey of new Answer Financial customers reporting insurance savings in 2020.