Car emergencies can happen to anyone at any time, regardless of how well maintained a vehicle is. When an emergency does occur it is important for the driver to take the right steps so that everyone in the vehicle remains safe until help arrives. In order to successfully accomplish this there are measures that the owner of the vehicle must take, using his or her emergency roadside kit. This is a kit that car owners should prepare and keep in their vehicles at all times. The contents of the kit are basic supplies that can be added to or subtracted from depending upon the season.
A roadside emergency kit is simple to prepare and can be stored until needed in a box or bin in the trunk of one's car. The basic tools for the kit are ones that are needed from one season to the next. Standard items include flares, jumper cables, a first-aid kit, a flashlight with spare batteries, a cellphone charger, a tire iron and jack, and tires. Each of these items can be used in the event that a vehicle malfunctions, has a flat, or some other emergency that requires the driver to pull over. Flares are set outside, away from the car, at night, or during low visibility conditions. They are meant to alert oncoming vehicles to the presence of another vehicle on the side of the road. These are important because not only do they alert other drivers to the presence of a vehicle, but they also let passing police know that there is a disabled car in the vicinity. Reflective triangles are another item that is useful for the purpose of alerting other vehicles that there is a disabled vehicle on the side of the road. Triangles should be placed six feet from the vehicle's bumper, and flares ten feet from the rear of the car. Jumper cables are another important item to keep on hand. These are necessary in the event that a car's battery dies. Jumper cables allow the driver of the vehicle to recharge his or her battery by hooking up to the battery of another vehicle. Ideally jumper cables should be 12 feet or longer to comfortably reach between the vehicles. A jack and tire irons should also be included and are critical for changing a flat tire. In addition to these two tools, a person should also have a spare tire kept in the trunk. A spare tire will help get the driver back on the road until a replacement tire can be purchased.
In the event that a flat or any other emergency occurs at night, a person must be able to see what is on the road around them and what they are doing. This is why it is important to always carry a flashlight in the kit. A flashlight will help if a tire needs to be changed or if a person needs to inspect the vehicle to locate the problem. An extra set of fresh batteries will ensure that the flashlight is in good working condition when it is needed. In some cases a person may need to wait for assistance. For this reason it is important that they have a way to contact a tow company, friend or family member. While most people travel with a cell phone, they may not have a car charger on hand in the vehicle. Keeping a car charger will ensure that one's phone is fully charged and functional when it is needed the most. In the event that there is no signal or for people who do not carry cellphones, spare change should be kept for using a pay phone if one is available. A first-aid kit will come in handy in the event of an injury, such as minor cuts if the car is involved in an accident or if a person is injured while repairing the car.
In addition to the basics, there are other items that people may want to include in their kit, such as non-perishable food and bottled water. This is particularly important if you are traveling long distances or in areas where the wait for assistance may take a significant amount of time. In the winter months, a blanket should be stored with the kit to help keep passengers warm. If driving in snow, keeping a shovel in the trunk is also a wise move as a shovel may be needed to help remove snow if the car should become stuck in it. Additional clothing, such as gloves and a rain coat, are also items that may prove useful, as will a hat which should be kept in the car not only during the winter but also during the summer months to provide protection from the sun.
In the event of an emergency it pays to be prepared. If an emergency occurs while on the road, the driver's first responsibility is to safely make it to the side of the road for both his or her protection and the protection of others. Careful preparation will ensure that all of the necessary items needed to remain safe are in the car. These items are not only designed to alert other vehicles to the presence of a driver in distress, but they may also help the driver to make necessary repairs, alert emergency responders or family, or to stay comfortable, safe and hydrated until help arises.
Read more about emergency roadside kits by clicking on the links below.
Automotive Safety Council Safety Links
Highway Safety Services Motor Vehicle Safety Resource Links