Now that Spring is here, we Michiganders will be taking more road-trips to sightsee our beautiful state. Often these adventures lead us to roads less traveled, which is great, but also adds a dimension of risk. What happens if our car breaks down and we’re without cell phone reception? Maybe we have cell phone reception, but help won’t arrive for 5 hours. Are we appropriately prepared for a few hours alone? Below I’ve concocted a list of things to keep in your vehicle, so you’ll never again be unprepared for a vehicle breakdown.
First Aid Kit:
Choose one which allows you to treat a range of problems, from small cuts or burns to ones that require major bandaging. It’s also important to familiarize yourself with how to use the items in your kit.
Fires can start from something as simple as a wiring short circuit or leaking oil. You should get away from a vehicle that’s on fire as quickly as possible, but for extra security it’s good to keep a fire extinguisher in the car that can be used in any emergency to quickly dose a small flame that’s just begun. Multipurpose dry-chemical fire extinguishers are available in a variety of sizes. I recommend carrying a compact unit that’s labeled 1A10BC or 2A10BC.
Warning Light, Hazard Triangle, or Flares:
If your vehicle is stuck on the road, it’s important to give other motorists as much warning of it’s presence as possible, especially at night. Battery powered warning lights that can be placed far from the vehicle are best, but reflective hazard triangles and flares also work well.
Tire gauges should be used on a monthly basis to check the inflation pressure in all four tires and the spare. Since the ambient temperature affect tire pressure, it’s also best practice to check the pressure after a significant change in temperature.
Jack and Lug Wrench:
Most vehicles come with these, but are located in different places depending on the vehicle. Consult your vehicles owner’s manual for instructions on where to find and how to use them.
Jumper Cables and a Portable Battery Booster:
Jumper cables are easy to use as long as you have a second care available to provide the jump. Refer to your vehicles owners manual for instructions. A portable battery booster eliminates the need for a second car.
This can be critical at night. Choose one that is bright and weatherproof. A flashlight with a magnet and flexible mounting system will allow you to work on your vehicle hands free. Also be sure to have extra batteries and a bulb available.
Water and Nonperishable Emergency Food:
Bring enough food and water to sustain you and your passengers for at least a meal, longer for remote areas or in extreme hot/cold weather.
Night’s this time of year can still be mighty cold. Be sure to pack a blanket or two to help keep yourself warm.
This includes a set of socket and open-end wrenches, a multi-tip screwdriver and pliers. This should be enough to perform simple jobs such as changing a light bulb, tightening battery cables, and so on. Even if you don’t know how to perform these fixes, sometimes a good Samaritan will come along that does.
Always have your roadside assistance card in your vehicle so you know what number to call to get help.
Newer vehicles have USB ports you can charge your phone on with a standard cell phone charger, but if your vehicle is not equipped with one no worries. You can buy a cigarette lighter USB adapter that will also work just fine.
This is my no means the end all be all of emergency kits, but it’s certainly a good starting point. In my experience it’s far better to be over prepared than it is to be under prepared. If there is anything you believe is missing from my list feel free to add to it by commenting below.