Emergency Roadside Safety Kits for Your Vehicle
Everyone should have an roadside safety kit in each vehicle but it is even more important during an emergency. Many people who live or travel in rural areas may already have a similar bag as they may be more accustomed to situations where you can be stranded.
Every vehicle should have a jack and tire iron or wheel wrench. Make sure you are familiar with how the jack works; practice before you need to use it. They are all quite different and some are designed to be used on specific areas of the bumper or axle. Know how to access the spare tire; newer trucks with the tire stored underneath can be difficult to access.
You can buy ready-made Emergency Roadside Kits or make your own, depending on your needs. If you decide to purchase a ready-made kit, compare the contents to these suggested lists to make sure you have everything that you may need and augment the kits with anything you think is necessary. Make sure you know how to use all the tools in the kit. Practice hooking up jumper cables in advance. Know how to use the tire pump.
Essential Items: Jumper Cables. Tire Pump (that works off the battery or a vehicle power outlet) & Tire Pressure Gauge. Flares and/or Emergency Flashers & Fold up Emergency Triangle. Flashlights: hands free ones with hangers or magnets or a headlamp make working on a vehicle much easier, ones with red flashers are great for signalling, rechargeable ones are available that will work off a USB cord and connector with your vehicle power outlet. Small Tool Kit and/or a Multi-tool (the kind with pliers, knife blades, saw blade, screwdrivers, etc.). Whistle. Fire Extinguisher (this doesn’t need to be in the kit, you can get ones that will mount in your vehicle). Waterproof/Windproof Matches & Lighter. Survival Candle. Folding Shovel. Tow Strap. Duct Tape & Electrical Tape, Work Gloves. Blanket. Garbage Bags. Water (change this out every few months, don’t store water in a vehicle when it might freeze). And last but not least, Toilet Paper.
For your Key Ring: An emergency seat belt cutter & window punch. There is no point in having this in your tool kit or emergency bag where it is hard to reach. It needs to be where you can easily access it. They can be found in most hardware stores, outdoor stores or Amazon.
Other less essential (but nice to have) items include: Reflective Safety Vest. Light Sticks. Emergency Ponchos. Spare Fuses & Hose Clamps. Radio - preferably solar and/or hand crank powered. Zip Ties, Bungie Cords/Straps, Cordage. Can of Instant Tire Fixer. Portable Power Pack Jump Starters. Road Maps (for the areas you regularly might travel). Signalling Mirror. Bug Dope. Flagging Tape (Caution Tape). Deck of Cards (if you have children you can get compact travel game boards). Can/bottle opener. Granola Bars or trail mix (change these out every few months).
If you regularly travel back roads you should carry a GPS, a compass and maps. Don’t trust the GPS to show you routes in the back country. Often these can be deactivated roads that will just get you in trouble.
Glove box kits are convenient places to store small items to have them easily accessible. Plastic boxes are best for this purpose (Tupperware/Rubbermaid) but zippered cases would work, too. As with Emergency Roadside Kits, there are ready made Glove Box Emergency Kits available commercially. They should contain the following items: Small notebook & pencil (pens can freeze or leak in heat. Lighter/Waterproof Matches. Assortment of coins (for parking meters, pay phones if they still exist, etc.). Mini sewing kit & safety pins. Wipes. Mini flashlight. Whistle. Small Swiss Army Knife. Small or folding scissors. Charger cord & power outlet adaptor. TGN’s Paracord Bracelet would be a good addition to a glove box kit or your main vehicle emergency kit.
If you are travelling in winter conditions you will probably want to add the following to your kits: Methyl Hydrate (gas-line anti-freeze). Ice Scraper & Snowbrush. Folding Snow Shovel. Kitty Litter or Sand. Hand warmers - battery operated/rechargeable ones or shake-activated ones. Scarf, Toque, Gloves, Spare Socks. Extra Survival Candles. Extra Blankets & Foil Blankets. If I were regularly travelling in northern winter conditions where there might be very little traffic, I would have something like one of these survival bags in my kit.
Summer conditions should mean packing extra water, water and more water! Drinking water for you and your radiator. A jug of antifreeze/coolant is a good idea if you have room for it. Shake-activated cold packs. Foil blankets are useful for keeping out the intense sun.
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