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What to Include in a Car Emergency Kit

Stranded, cold and hungry along the highway is nowhere you’d want to be. A well-stocked emergency roadside kit could help you get back on the road quickly and safely. (And if you’re stuck, at least you’ll be stuck with a snack and a warm blanket.)

Pre-assembled kits are available to purchase, but you might want to assemble your own or customize a purchased kit. Consider including:

The Basics
•Cell phone and car charger, with a list of emergency numbers
•Fire extinguisher
•Two roadside flares
•Quart of oil
•Small first aid kit
•Multipurpose tool or pocket knife
•Tire pressure gauge
•Tire inflator
•Duct tape
•Your car’s manual
•Pen and paper
•Help sign


If your car has more trunk space, or if you’re planning a long trip, add these to the mix:
•Jumper cables or a portable battery booster
•Gallon of antifreeze
•Extra fuses
•Extra flashlight batteries
•Basic tools: Phillips and flat-head screwdrivers, pliers, adjustable wrench
•Spray bottle with washer fluid
•Ice scraper
•Granola or energy bars
•Bottled water
•An approved gas container
•A road atlas

Additional Items

Think about the weather, too. Will you need extra water or a warm blanket? If icy roads are likely, a bag of sand or cat litter could provide traction for a stuck tire. You might also be glad to have a folding camp shovel or warm gloves and hat.

Think about your passengers, too. If you have kids and they ride in your car often, think about having items in the emergency kit that will keep them occupied if you’re stopped for awhile. Also consider additional blankets and snacks.

Check your kit occasionally to make sure it’s shipshape, the spare tire is inflated, batteries are charged, first-aid supplies are stocked, water is fresh and food is dry. Be familiar with how each tool works before you need to use it in an emergency. Also remember that the most important tool you have is common sense; stopping to change a tire in the fast lane is an accident waiting to happen.