What Should My Car Emergency Kit Contain?
A Tool Kit’s Enough, Right---Or Is It?
There is truth in the maxim that, “prevention is better than cure,” but in the case of roadside emergencies, the MMA maxim is often more accurate: “a knockout can happen anytime, anywhere.” This is why it’s very important that you take measures to be prepared. Having a car emergency kit is a good way to ensure that you’re prepared for the unexpected.
How Do I Make a Road Emergency Kit?
While the hope is that you don’t have to use your road emergency kit, it’s better to have it and not need it, rather than need it and not have it. To start, you’ll need four components to your car emergency kit: your car tool kit, spare tire, car jack, and other kit essentials.
Putting Together Your Car Tool Kit
Having a basic car tool kit can be a big help when there is no gas station, service center, or repair and vulcanizing shop nearby. While most brand-new cars come with basic tool kits, many used or repossessed cars may no longer have them.
Luckily, many auto shops and hardware stores sell car tool sets so you don’t have to worry about which individual tools to buy. But if you want to learn and be more familiar with which car tools are the most useful, here is a list of basic tools that may prove indispensable in an emergency:
- Screwdrivers (Standard and Phillips types; 2 of each, 1 big and 1 small)
- Socket wrench (ratchet or torque) with a socket set that may include a universal joint
- A multi-tool like a Leatherman Wave
- Emergency car battery charger and/or jumper cables
- Tire pressure gauges
- Paper Towels and Rags (big and small pieces)
- Gloves (both thick working gloves and disposable gloves)
- Extra engine oil and brake fluid
Making Sure Your Spare Tire is Well-Maintained
While most cars come with a spare tire (whether bought brand new or repossessed), you need to make sure that the one in your car is well-maintained.
To do that, make sure to rotate the tires periodically, at least every 5,000 to 7,000 km. When you’re having your tires rotated, make sure to have your spare tire inspected to ensure your spare is properly inflated and in good condition.
It’s a good idea, too, to know how to change your car tires because even if you do have all the tools, having the skills to use them is essential.
Your Trusty Car Jack and Tire Lug Wrench
Keeping a car jack and a tire lug wrench are essential in your car emergency tool kit. There are many types and sizes of car jacks and it’s best to ask your service center specialist or mechanic for advice on buying the right car jack for your car. Lug wrenches are fairly standard and universal so you shouldn’t have a problem with buying one. But if you’ve got custom lug nuts, make sure you have the lug nut key handy or you’ll be in trouble.
Other Essentials for Your Car Emergency Kit
Apart from these key tools to have, here are a few other car emergency essentials to get:
Your Emergency Services Contact Info
What do you do when your roadside emergency is more than replacing a flat tire and you can’t find a shop nearby? This is where your emergency services contact info is important so you can call in a tow truck for help (be it by your insurance provider or local emergency services provider).
A tow rope is handy for when your car has engine trouble and would need assistance from another vehicle to get to the nearest repair shop. While you can call for a tow truck, having a tow rope could be a handy alternative if you have a friend coming along to help bring you and your car to the repair shop. This one is optional but you can’t be too careful.
Flashlight and Mobile Phone Power Bank
While a mobile phone’s torchlight (or flashlight) app can be a good light source in a pinch, nothing beats a flashlight for roadside emergencies. Make sure to get a small, lightweight flashlight that can easily fit into the glove box or in a car door cubby for easy reach. Size is key because you can’t get a flashlight that’s too big or too small. Generally, a flashlight that fits when you curl your hand into a grip is a good size. It can be battery-powered or USB-rechargeable.
Speaking of rechargeables, your mobile phone is your best friend during roadside emergencies. Having a backup power bank is absolutely essential so you call for help. Get one that has at least 20,000 milliamp-hours (mAh). A model that is equipped with multiple USB ports would be great to have, particularly for your passengers.
Early Warning Devices and Emergency Flares
By law, all cars in the Philippines are required to carry early warning devices (EWDs)---those red and yellow reflective triangles that should be placed at 4- and 6-meter intervals (depending on the type of road; on highways, the intervals are farther) behind your car during roadside emergencies.
Emergency flares, on the other hand, are for underlit or dark areas and emit red and yellow lights to warn other cars that you are in the area and they should avoid passing too close to you.
Your Weather Essentials
We’re entering into the rainy season and getting caught in the rain during a roadside emergency will be par for the course. Be sure to pack a raincoat to protect you from the rain and cold (the brighter, the better---think canary yellow---so you’re visible to oncoming traffic). Rubber boots are important too, so you can make the repairs you need to make without getting your feet wet. Take an umbrella along, too.
A Handy Car Escape Tool
What’s a car escape tool? Generally, a car escape tool refers to a small multi-tool that has two implements: a seatbelt safety cutter and a car window breaker. The escape tool is a tool of dire need and is used only during extreme cases of emergency when passengers are trapped in the cabin and need to leave the vehicle as quickly as possible. Seatbelt safety cutters are used for cutting through seatbelts that may have jammed, quickly and easily, and as safely as possible.
A car window breaker (or, technically, a glass breaker) is a small dense metal solid point fixed on the other end of the escape tool. This metal point is usually sharp and hard enough so it can penetrate and shatter tempered car glass on impact.
Your Car’s First Aid Kit
Like the car escape tool, having a first aid kit is essential and, hopefully, is used only for dire circumstances. Many pharmacies and groceries sell basic first aid kits (especially now in the time of the quarantine) and come quite well-stocked.
However, if you want to put together your own car first aid kit, you can put one together by including the following items in the list below:
- Antibiotic ointment
- Hydrocortisone ointment
- Antiseptic wipes
- N95 face masks
- Instant cold compress
- Nitrile gloves (size: large)
- Absorbent compress dressings (5 x 9 inches)
- Adhesive bandages (assorted sizes)
- Adhesive cloth tape (10 yards x 1 inch)
- 3x3 and 4x4 inches sterile gauze pads
- Triangular bandages
- 3- or 4-inch gauze roll bandage
- Tweezers and scissors
- Digital oral thermometer
Don’t Leave Home Without Your KIt---Nor Wait Till the Last Minute To Learn How To Use It!
Have you assembled your car emergency kit? That’s great! Don’t forget to keep them stored in your car’s trunk, preferably in an organizer box that can make it easily accessible in a hurry.
It’s equally important that you are familiar with all the tools you have in your emergency kit so feel free to practice and test them out so you will gain the skills to use them properly if the unexpected ever occurs. Also, it does not matter if you have a brand-new or repossessed car; it’s a brilliant idea to double-check the lights, tires, windshield wipers, car battery, and all the vehicle fluids before you go on a drive.
Interested in reading articles like these? Automart posts content for prospective clients who want to know what a repossessed car is, the benefits of repossessed cars, tips for 1st-time repo car buyers, or how to prep for the rainy season, and more, at our Blog page.