Defensive driving usually involves staying aware of the conditions and drivers around you and driving in a way that enables you to arrive at your destination safely despite them. However, even the best defensive drivers sometimes find themselves in an emergency situation, and in these cases, an emergency kit could be your best defense against the elements or other conditions out of your control.


What to Pack 


Many drivers prefer to put together their own customized emergency kits. This allows for the inclusion of items that are specific to each member of the family and the type of travel that is expected. What should be included?


Emergency Kit Essentials


These are basic items that can be useful in any emergency situation, from stalled cars to accidents, and should be kept in a car emergency kit year-round:

  • Flashlight – either a classic flashlight with backup batteries or a hand-crank model
  • Jumper cables
  • Battery charger pack compatible with your cell phone
  • Hazard flares
  • Small multi-function tool
  • Water bottles
  • Nonperishable snacks
  • Unscented baby wipes
  • First aid kit – your kit should include each of these items:
    • Band-Aids
    • Antiseptic wipes
    • Antibacterial ointment
    • Pain relievers
    • Gauze pads
    • Adhesive tape
    • Wound wraps
    • Tweezers
    • Ace bandage
    • Extra epi-pen, if necessary


Extras to Consider


In addition to the essentials, extra items can help you be proactive in the event roadside repairs are necessary. You may not need to call emergency or roadside assistance if you have the following on hand:

  • Duct tape
  • Tarp
  • Tire pressure gauge
  • Tire jack and wrench
  • Foam sealant for tire punctures
  • Small fire extinguisher

If your car is an older model, or if you don’t stay up to date with suggested fluid changes, consider keeping small containers of the proper oil, antifreeze, brake fluid, and washer fluid.


Weather-Related Items


Unfortunately, emergencies don’t always happen on warm, sunny days. Keep the weather in mind and keep your car stocked with essentials for your family based on the temperatures and  potential precipitation in your area:

  • Small blankets
  • Mittens, hats, and other winter accessories for each potential passenger
  • Extra warm clothing for each potential passenger
  • Hand warmer packets
  • Bagged cat litter or sand for traction
  • Winter boots
  • Ice scraper
  • Tire chains for mountainous areas
  • Tow straps
  • Rain poncho
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug repellent
  • Window shades

For a more detailed look at winter-specific emergency kits, check out our previous blog post.


Should I Just Purchase a Kit? 


There are many pre-made emergency kits on the market today that will cover the basics you’ll need in an emergency situation. However, by assembling your own kit, you can include items that are tailored to your individual and family needs based on your location, time of year, type of travel, as well as any health-specific needs.  If you choose to purchase a kit, give it a thorough once-over and add any items you feel might fit your family’s unique needs.