We all drive, and we don’t think much about what will happen in a roadside emergency.  We can’t take the entire garage with us, and we can’t anticipate everything that may go wrong.  However, a stocked-up emergency kit is always a good idea, whether you are planning a cross-country trip or just a last-minute drive to the grocery store.

So, here is a general list from which you can choose what will work for you.

  • Mobile charger for your cell phone.  We all have cell phones these days, but they don’t do you any good without a charger.  So get an extra one and put it in your bag.
  • Flashlight that works.  And batteries.  Batteries last longer if they are not installed in the light, so store them separately in your bag.  The new LED flashlights are very bright and use little power, but when the battery starts to go down, they go down quickly.  Pack at least one extra set of batteries.
  • Fire Extinguisher.  Get one that is small enough to store but is labeled “1A10BC or 2A10BC.”  These can handle small fires from solids and combustible liquids and gasses.  Mount it somewhere that is easily accessible, such as in front of the passenger seat on the floor.  Putting it in the trunk or in your emergency bag may be too far away to be useful.  When you need it, you need it now!
  • First Aid Kit.  Most pharmacy stores and big box stores sell inexpensive self-contained first aid kits with bandages and such for helping fix those little cuts and bruises along the way.  Remember that if you need to use items from the kit, replace it soon.  Bring along non-prescription items for headache and pain relief, too.
  • Jumper Cables and/or Jump Box.  Some of the newer jump boxes can be connected to the cigarette lighter plug so you can jump your car without opening the hood.  They can also provide backup power to your phone and other devices.  If you don’t have one of these, at least have a decent set of jumper cables.
  • Canned tire sealant and/or portable compressor.  Many newer cars don’t have spare tires or require the use of a small compressor to make it ready to use.  Sometimes, all you need is a can of tire foam to get back on the road.  Check to see what came with your car – it may have its own portable compressor.  Make sure you know how to unpack it and use it.
  • Hazard Triangles.  You see these placed behind semi-trucks stopped on the side of the road.  They fold up into a small package and can help other drivers see your stopped car while you address any issues that you have.
  • Basic Tools.  You should have some basic tools with you in your bag, including a couple of types and sizes of screwdrivers and pliers, a small hammer, three sizes of adjustable wrenches, and a small razor knife.  Don’t forget a good pair of gloves.
  • Water-tight bag or container for all your stuff.  Put everything in a bag or container that won’t be harmed by water or moisture.

Put these things together and put it in the trunk.  Check it every so often to be sure that nothing has rusted or “gone bad.”  And hope that you don’t ever need it!