When it comes to emergency preparedness, automotive emergencies aren’t necessarily the first thing to come to mind. You probably have your disaster readiness kit at home filled with water and non-perishables of your choosing, and a safe filled to protect important documents from fire and water, but being prepared in your car or truck is a different story.
Whether you need to purchase your own set of jumper cables (and learn how to use them), or stow a small shovel in your trunk (not only a tip for the northern states, I think we all learned that this past winter), here’s a list of items that you’ll want to add to your DIY Car Emergency Kit:
- For Fixing Things: You’ll want a tool kit that can live in your car, not one that travels back and forth into the house. Fill it with sockets, an adjustable wrench, and jumper cables for repairs. Add in flares, screw drivers, a seatbelt cutter, plugs for patching a nail hole in a tire (which you best learn how to use), Fix-A-Flat, a flashlight and batteries, and a pen that boldly doubles as a window breaker in an emergency. If you want to go all out, stock a mini air compressor that plugs into your car’s lighter, and have a car jack so you’re able to change your own tire.
- For Comfort: Pack an extra hat, gloves, an umbrella, and even a blanket or two to feel at ease if you’re traveling during the winter. Hand and toe warmers are inexpensive as well, and keep for a long time. And those window shades that deflect sunlight from the dashboard? You’ll be happy you have those if you’re stranded on a sunny day.
- For Convenience: Have a cell phone charger. Store a backup battery in your glove compartment, or invest in a solar charger (for $20, can’t go wrong if it means you can phone out for help in an emergency). Bungees and lengths of rope and twine are always handy in a pinch too.
- For Energy: Pack granola or energy bars and a few bottles of water. If you’re stranded roadside for an extended period of time, they’ll never taste better.
If you’re looking at this list and thinking that you don’t have enough room in your car, remember that there is usually a little extra space in the spare tire storage beneath the trunk depending on the type of vehicle you drive. And in the video below, DIY Network host Chris Grundy tells you about a product that will help you jump off your car even if there’s no one else to help — consider adding one to your kit. Safe travels to all!