Be prepared for whatever the road throws at you with a roadside emergency kit

Crawford Frazer
Imagine your car has broken down. Night has fallen, you're in the middle of nowhere and the only lights for miles are the headlights of your car. Are you prepared? There's no telling when something may go wrong on the road, so it pays to have a roadside emergency kit in your car.
General roadside kit

In the example above, you'd probably want a flashlight with extra batteries. But what else do you need? provides this list of things that might help you get your car running again and flag down help.

  • Jumper cables.
  • Flares (four, lasting 15 minutes each).
  • Extra oil (two quarts).
  • Antifreeze (one gallon).
  • Tire pressure gauge.
  • Tire inflator.
  • Tools: flat-head and Phillips head screwdrivers, adjustable wrench, pliers, vise grips and pocket knife.
  • Extra fuses.
  • Paper towels.
  • Rags.
  • Duct tape.
  • Help sign.

Stranded in bad weather

If you're stranded for a while, you'll probably need food. Cold weather can bring an entirely different set of challenges. In addition to the list above, the Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness recommends keeping these items on hand:

  • Bottled water and non-perishable snacks (like raisins, nuts and high-energy granola bars).
  • Blankets and a sleeping bag.
  • Extra clothes, especially a hat, gloves and boots.
  • Steel shovel and rope.
  • Sand (or cat litter) to use for tire traction.

First aid kit

Finally, it's always a good idea to be prepared for something worse than darkness or cold: injury. The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency has a list of what should be included in a first aid kit:

  • Sterile adhesive bandages and roller bandages.
  • Gauze pads.
  • Hypoallergenic adhesive tape.
  • Scissors.
  • Tweezers.
  • Needle.
  • Razor blades.
  • Safety pins.
  • Moist towelettes.
  • Antiseptic spray.
  • Bar of soap.
  • Latex gloves.
  • Petroleum jelly.
  • Non-breakable thermometer.
  • Aspirin (or other pain reliever).
  • Rubbing alcohol.
  • Antiseptic.

It might not be realistic to transport all these items with you every day. But if you're planning on venturing far from home on a road trip, you might want to keep your roadside emergency kit next to your suitcase in the trunk. If a storm or car problems disrupt your trip, you'll be ready.

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