Creating Your Roadside Emergency Kit
A few basic items can help you get back on the road quicker
A roadside emergency can happen at any time, whether your car is new or old. A range of problems can cause it, from a tire failure or mechanical breakdown to running out of fuel. At best, it's an annoyance; at worst, it can compromise your safety. Being prepared with a basic emergency kit can increase your safety, reduce stress, and help you get back on the road faster.
Basic kit: Getting help, signaling your car's presence to other motorists, and tackling simple challenges.
• Cellular phone and Car charger: Keep a car charger handy. This device plugs into the cigarette lighter or other power point in the car and charges the battery of your cell phone.
• First-aid kit: One that allows you to treat a range of problems, from small cuts or burns to ones that require major bandaging. Get familiar with how to use the kit before you need to!
• Fire extinguisher: We recommend a compact unit that's labeled 1A10BC or 2A10BC.
• Warning light, hazard triangle, or flares: Look for a battery-powered warning light that can be placed far from the vehicle. Reflective hazard triangles and flares are also effective and don't need batteries.
• Tire gauge: This should be used on a monthly basis to check the inflation pressure in all four tires and the spare tire.
• Jack and lug wrench: Refer to your owner's manual on where they're located in the vehicle and how to use them.
• Spare fuses: These are easy to check and replace by referring to your owner's manual. Keep an assortment on hand of the proper type for your vehicle.
• Jumper cables or a portable battery booster: Jumper cables are easy to use as long as you have a second car available to provide a jump. A portable battery booster eliminates the need for a second car.
• Flashlight: This can be critical at night. Choose one that is bright and weatherproof. Also, have extra batteries and a bulb available.
• Portable compressor and plug kit: A portable DC-powered air compressor can be used to inflate a tire--and is especially handy for one that suffers from a slow leak.
• Gloves, hand cleaner, and clean rags: Even the simplest jobs can get your hands dirty.
• Auto-club card or roadside-assistance number: Keep the number(s) in your vehicle.
• Disposable flash camera: This lets you record the condition of your vehicle and other vehicles for insurance purposes. A cell phone camera can also work.
• $20 in small bills and change: Keep this available for miscellaneous use.
• Pen and pad of paper: This can come in handy for a range of uses.
It's also important to make periodic checks on your equipment to ensure it's in working order—that the spare tire is properly inflated, batteries are not discharged, first-aid supplies are current, water is fresh, and food is dry. In addition, be familiar with how each tool works, from jumper cables to the jack, before you need to use it in an emergency. And drive safe!
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