Having a cell phone is great for emergencies, but what if you can’t get service or your battery dies? What if you get stuck in a terrible rain or snow storm and roadside repair crews can’t get to you? Will you be safe or able to help yourself?
All cars should have at least a basic emergency kit, to include a minimum of two roadside flares, a small first aid kit, flashlight, pen and paper (or a help sign), duct tape, a quart of oil, a tire inflator, and an all-purpose tool (something like a pocket knife that has a knife, pliers, screwdriver, etc). The first aid kit should contain plenty of bandages, adhesive tape, antiseptic cream, aspirin, scissors, and instant heat and cold compresses.
Be sure to check that your car has all the parts to your jack and your spare tire is in good condition. If you’re looking to be more thoroughly prepared, keep jumper cables, an ice scraper, rags, extra fuses, extra batteries for the flashlight, a fire extinguisher, blanket, granola bars, bottled water, and a small how-to manual for basic roadside repairs. Your tool kit should include flat and Phillips head screwdrivers, pliers, an adjustable wrench, a tire inflator, and a tire pressure gauge.
We don’t get much snow in Hampton Roads, but if you are traveling someplace where snow is likely, you might want to add extra clothing, a small shovel, tire chains, and cat litter. If you get stuck in the snow, use the shovel to clear the snow away from the wheels and then pour the cat litter around the path of the wheels to help get traction.
Try to keep everything in your emergency kit in a duffel bag so you always know where it is. Be sure to check the kit frequently and replace any missing, used, or expired items. It’s also a good idea to make sure you know how to use the tools before you become stranded. As the old adage says – “better safe than sorry!”