When an emergency presents itself you have to be prepared. Many people already have the tools they need when an emergency strikes at home, but being in your vehicle is completely different. The availability of important tools is often not there, so you must take initiative to make sure you have what you need, no matter what happens.
Below is a short list of essential emergency items, how they can help, and some additional tips to increase your chance of survival.
Communications - A cell phone and some form of battery charger should be enough to get the help you need in a hurry. However, for travelers who often find themselves in very secluded areas, you could take the extra step to purchase some type of tracking/locator device or a GPS unit.
Tip: When dialing 911, any available service is required to pick up your call, so even when your cell phone may say no service, there is still a chance your call will be picked up. Additionally, when that call is picked up they may not necessarily know your location and phone number, so it is important to provide as much information as possible.
First Aid - Your health and well being is always the most immediate priority, and so it is obvious that the ability to take care of injuries and health problems is essential. Sometimes you can not wait for help and therefore must take your own initiative. There are tons of first-aid items that can be helpful, but we recommend stocking a high quality first-aid or medical kit somewhere in the back of your car.
Emergency Lights or Road Flares - Lighting is a way to communicate and inform nearby people of an immediate danger or as a call for help. Setting up road flares or a flashing strobe light can get someone's attention either as a signal for help or to alert them of danger such as a stalled vehicle down the road.
Basic Auto Mechanic Tools - These types of tools should be available in case a self-repair is needed. They include:
Jumper Cables or Portable Battery Charger
Jack and Lug Wrench
Flat Tire Repair Kit
Coolant Hose Repair Kit
Tip: Make sure you know how to use these tools, or become familiar with an instruction manual. Trying to repair something you are not sure about can cause even more problems.
Multi Function Tool - A multi function tool can provide a lot of uses and comes in a convenient, compact size. Some basic elements to your multi tool should include these functions:
Money - An extra stash of small bills and some coins can always come in handy.
Paper and Pen - You may need to write down important information or directions.
Important Phone Numbers (Written!) - Always have a few numbers for people or places that can help, written down on paper. You may need to use another phone other than your cell phone in case it is broken or the battery is dead. Some numbers may include:
A close friend or family member (maybe 2 or 3)
A knowledgeable or professional acquaintance such as your mechanic, healthcare practitioner, or civil/public service member
Extra Food and Water - You never know how long you could be stranded somewhere. You should keep enough food and water for about 3 days. Snack bars, energy bars, and food bars are all ideal, along with a water jug or bottle.
Clothing and Shelter - Some extra items you may consider should be:
Rag, cloth, or towel
Additional Tools - These other tools are for winter driving or other special circumstances that you may want to consider having available in case of emergencies:
Compact Folding Shovel
For more information about Vehicle Emergencies check out our upcoming article about what to do in specific situations involving vehicle break downs.