Stocking an Emergency Kit for Your Car or Truck

Your car gives out in the middle of nowhere and you forgot your cell phone.  You have not passed any mailboxes for a long time and the only light you see is coming from your own headlights.  You hear one of your kids start to cry in the back seat and you wonder what you can do.

Even in this age of cell phones, it is a great idea to have a few basic emergency supplies in your car as part of an emergency kit.  There are some basic items you really need to have on hand year around.  A few extra items are probably a good idea during winter months in case you become stranded.  All the items are outlined below and easily available.

There are many commercial and basic emergency kits available on the market.  In most cases these include a set of jumper cables, reflectors and maybe a few miscellaneous tools.  Some of the higher end models may also include some kind of emergency air pump that you can plug into your car’s power outlet and pump air into a flat tire.  A small first aid kit should be kept around and may come as part of a commercial set.

Depending on the weather and the climate in your area, there are a few other things that might be a good idea to add to your emergency kit.  A shovel can come in very handy if your car bogs down in snow or mud.  It is also a good idea to keep some kind of substance to use for traction.  Kitty litter is one of the most popular types of traction.  You may also be able to carry some remnant carpet strips or sand.  Keep in mind your weight limitations, though.  The extra weight that these items provide can also help your car achieve better traction in inclement weather.

One very important component of a car or truck’s emergency kit is a light source.  While a decent flashlight might be included in the kit you bought, you might want to look at another and better light source.  In my opinion, you cannot beat LED flashlights.  In a lot of stores today, you can find LED flashlights that have a lot of extra features.  They are almost like a multipurpose tool for light, and can include features like an emergency beacon and flashing lights, as well as the standard flashlight and lantern.  LEDs also burn brighter and batteries will last longer.  Make sure you store extra batteries for these electric devices and check them regularly.

Getting information might be tough to get if you are stuck in the middle of a snow drift.  Preserving battery power in your car is pretty important, so having a spare radio may be a good idea.  There are radios on the market that do not take batteries.  Instead you crank a handle on the side to charge it.  These are great and you do not have to worry about carrying batteries for it.  A good quality blanket is going to be very important in extremely cold weather.  As mentioned above, if your car is still running, you want to make sure you can start it from time to time.  That means that the temperature is going to drop in the car and a blanket will help you stay warm.  A small supply of food and water in the car may not be a bad idea depending on the weather.  Make certain the bottled water is sealed and the food items are non-perishable. 

Hopefully these items are nothing you are going to need.  But, it seems to me, that it would be better to have them and not need them than to need them and not have them.  Make sure that you keep your kit together according to the season.  You most likely only need the basic supplies in the summer and then add to your kit as the season changes.  Always be cautious when weather conditions are hazardous.  

~ Ben Anton, 2008

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