How to Make Your Own Car Emergency Kit

Posted by: Lydia on 4/09/2019

Category: General


No driver ever wants to be in an emergency situation – and fortunately, for the most part, any car issues arising when driving day to day will require nothing more than a call to roadside assistance. But for those rare times when it’s more serious, having a proper emergency kit on hand can make all the difference.

A good emergency kit can help you get back on the road more quickly; and in circumstances where this isn’t possible, it can at least help make you more comfortable while you wait for help. In really serious situations, it can even be a lifesaver. There are various emergency kits available in stores, but you can also put your own together. Here's a look at what you should include when making your own car emergency kit. 

The Essentials

Depending on the age of your car, you may or may not have a spare tyre. If you don't have one already, it's a very wise addition to an emergency kit, in addition to a tyre iron and jack. It’s also smart to pack a can of Fix-a-Flat or other temporary tyre repair measure. 

A backup GPS and paper maps are also good to have on hand. Your smartphone should normally cover you, but obviously an emergency situation isn’t the norm. All it takes is a simple accident like dropping your phone in a creek while hiking, and you may suddenly find yourself unable to find your way home. A backup in the car can make all the difference.

It’s also smart to pack some shelf-stable food. While nobody is going to die of starvation waiting an hour for a tow truck, if you have young kids – or other passengers who skipped lunch – a packet of chips or a couple of biscuits will keep the blood sugar up and help avoid any grumpiness while waiting.  

If you’re travelling to a very remote part of the nation where help is likely to be a few hours away if you break down, then packing extra clothes and blankets is important too. Also consider packing an emergency radio and flares for such occasions. These obviously won’t be necessary if you break down in an urban environment, but they could be crucial in a crisis scenario like your car sliding into a ditch where you’re not visible to others on the road. 

Important extras

If you don’t ever drive beyond city limits and aren't planning a road trip anytime soon, then you won’t need to lug extra water. But if you're driving in remote parts of the Top End regularly, then a car breakdown without water could be a disaster. 

Similarly, if you break down along the southern coast of Tasmania in the middle of winter, you're unlikely to need mosquito repellent like you would in Far North Queensland’s summer. Yet packing a few extra pairs of socks could be wise in case your feet get wet, and to protect you from the risk of blisters and other issues that will stay with you long after your car’s been towed back home.

Why regular maintenance is a must

It’s one thing to have an emergency kit, and another to have one in good working order. As a general rule, check your emergency kit as frequently as you do general maintenance on your car. It will only take a minute or two, but it will ensure everything is ready to use if the need arises. It also guarantees you won’t be caught short because a family member pinched something from the kit for day-to-day use.

All kits will be different, but in general, make sure any food items, sunscreen, or mosquito repellent aren't expired, water is fresh, clothing isn’t wet or torn, and devices have fresh batteries. Also take a moment to consider if there’s anything you need to add or take out.

The most important tool in your kit 

At the end of the day, an emergency kit is a tool – one you absolutely can use when you need to. But it must be remembered that while an emergency kit can help you get out of trouble, proactively planning to avoid problems is always the ideal course of action. Central to this will always be a knowledge of your car and your surroundings.

Being familiar with the warning signs of car trouble will give you the ability to nip problems in the bud as soon as they arise. Instead of putting your safety and the lifespan of your car at risk, knowing when to pull the car over and call roadside assistance is critical. 

Also know your surroundings. Even if you're travelling to a remote area, Google and social media sites are likely to have information you need. Sure, your paper map in your emergency kit will show you where the nearest town is if you lose the signal on your smartphone, but a bit of prior observation may help you remember where the nearest town with a mechanic actually is.

Finally, knowing what to do in an emergency can mean the difference between enduring a major drama or coming through it with minimal inconvenience. Every emergency is different, but there are a few general rules to follow.

First, stay with your vehicle whenever it's possible and safe to do so. Second, call for help as soon as possible (even if you don’t think you need it right away, it’s better to be safe than sorry). Third, keep everyone calm. Even if another driver caused a crash, or your passengers are upset about being late to their destination, keeping everyone calm and focused will help ensure the emergency is resolved as smoothly as possible. 

What else would you include in a car emergency kit? Let us know in the comments below:

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