From the beginning of July to the end of September, more than 700 million Americans will be traveling by car, or on vacation. No matter how long your trip, you need to make sure that you are ready for the ride.
You can buy an emergency kit at any store but what’s inside is usually average to poor quality items. This is what you need to carry in your trunk!
The Perfect Emergency Safety Kit:
- Jumper cables (don’t buy the cheap ones): Your best choice is to buy jumper cables and a power source that will permit you to jumpstart your battery without another vehicle. Regular jumper cables require 2 cars. If you have your own portable jump starter, you’ll be able to quickly connect the red positive cable to the positive battery post and the black to the negative battery post, and then just start your car. This is a safer choice than asking a stranger to help jump start your vehicle.
- Flashlight with extra batteries — Alkaline batteries last longer than heavy duty ones.
- Tire inflation product — A tire inflation product is a tire inflator and sealant, and it is a simple solution to a flat tire. It seals and inflates in minutes. Yes, this little gadget really will fix your flat tire, even on van, pick-up and SUV tires (If you drive an SUV, truck or van, get the largest can or carry two cans. Larger tires require more product to seal and inflate the tire temporarily.) There is no need to jack up the vehicle. Just attach the hose to the valve stem, press the nozzle and -- whizzzz — it seals and re-inflates your tire. Anyone can do this temporary repair in less than 15 minutes, which is less time than it usually takes for a tow truck to arrive.
- First Aid Kit — not a bag of bandages — get a real First Aid Kit. These can be purchased at mass merchandisers or built your own.
- LED light flare — An emergency flashing triangle placed behind your car on the side of the road, will let other motorists will see you up to half a mile away and will alert them that you need help. These triangles contain flashing LED lights housed inside a reflective plastic triangle, which easily folds down for convenient storage. A LED light source is a much safer and reusable choice and can stick to the car or be placed on the road.
- Protein snacks or bars — in case you are stuck and waiting for help. Candy bars don’t qualify as protein because they can give you a carbohydrate rush and carbohydrate crash. This can put you to sleep when you need to stay awake. Consider nuts, raisins, protein bars, dried fruit, or beef jerky. Try to find snacks that don’t contain a lot of sugar.
- Bottled water — the water could be for you or your radiator. Get a large bottle and put it in a sealed bag in case it leaks.
- Blankets — one for every passenger who usually rides in the car. No matter where you live, you may need a blanket to keep you warm. It also can cover the ground if you have to crawl under your car.
- Cellphone car charger — Most of us have cellphones these days, and it’s important to have a car charger in case of an emergency Your cell phone is also a beacon and can help emergency personnel locate you.
- Road service card — especially handy if you travel out of town. Even if you are a mechanical whiz, you may need it. Before you buy a road service plan, many new cars and trucks come with a road service program. Also make sure that any road service program you have is kept up to date with your current plate number and car details such as color, make and model as some road service companies won’t help your if you haven’t updated this information.
- Paper towels — there’s nothing like a roll of paper towels for cleaning the windows or wiping your greasy hands.
- Glass cleaner — long trips collect bugs, dirt and grime on your windows and headlights. Make sure you can see where you are going.
- Extra washer fluid — great for those sloppy days and when you run out of washer fluid. Whenever you fill your washer fluid reservoir, put the leftover fluid in your trunk.
- Work Gloves — Use lined gloves for pumping gas, checking tire pressure and adding washer fluid. Gas and washer fluid are poisons. Where have your tires been? What have you driven through? Why get it all over your hands?
- Hand Sanitizer
- Basic tools — you don’t have to be a mechanic to carry basic tools. Most of us can work with a screwdriver, hammer, and pliers if we have to.
- Electrical tape and Zip Ties — If you crack a hose, electrical tape is a quick fix to get you to a shop or technician. This can help repair anything that’s hanging.
- Rain Poncho — even a cheap one will keep you dry.
Get more Car Smart in my book,"Lauren Fix's Guide to Loving Your Car."
Just put all this in a bag so you can access it if you need it.
Lauren Fix, The Car Coach® is a nationally recognized automotive expert, media guest, journalist, author, keynote speaker and television host. Post your comments on Twitter: @LaurenFix or on her Facebook Page.