The most crucial factor in helping you through a roadside emergency is preparation. Whether it be a flat tire on a remote road or a multi-car pileup on a heavy freeway, having the supplies you need to keep you and your passengers safe until help arrives is essential to a better situation outcome.
The National Safety Council (NSC) recommends compiling and keeping an emergency supply kit in your vehicle if you experience a car accident, a breakdown, or if your car becomes stuck or stranded. Accidents miles ahead can leave you sitting on a freeway for hours in some highly trafficked areas.
An effective emergency kit will help you fix problems, protect yourself and your car, and be a means of contact. While there is no limit to the amount and type of emergency items you may anticipate needing, the NSC recommends the following essential items.
The tires are a crucial vehicle component to help ensure the safety of passengers and others on the road. Tires that are worn, bald, or low on pressure cannot perform as they should.
Regularly inspect your tires’ tread and rotate or replace them when they become worn or the print is wearing unevenly. It is good practice always to carry a tire pressure gauge and check the pressure in your tires when you fill your gas tank, where you can add air from the gas station’s compressor. For emergency purposes, carry a portable tire pump.
Batteries degrade over time if exposed to excessive heat or cold. Carry a portable rechargeable battery booster to help start your vehicle if the battery dies. This is an essential piece of equipment with you should the battery die in a remote area with no motorists to help jump the car. Once you start the vehicle with the booster, the battery will charge more as you drive.
Carrying jumper cables at all times allows you to charge a dead battery with another motorist’s help if you are not carrying a battery booster.
Flashlight and Batteries
Always carry a waterproof flashlight that helps you see and keep you safe if you become stranded at night or have to wait long periods before help arrives. Purchase a magnetic flashlight so you can keep it in easy reach. Make sure to pack a couple of packs of extra batteries.
External Phone Battery
Cellphone car chargers are a staple device in most everyone’s vehicles these days, but should you become stranded, you do not want to drain the car battery by charging the phone. Depending on the elements, you may need to turn the car on periodically to have heat or air conditioning. A dead battery in those circumstances will cause you an even greater emergency, but your phone is also crucial to have in an emergency to call for help.
Add an external battery pack to your emergency kit to ensure you can keep using your phone. Some battery boosters or all-in-one air compressor/battery booster combination kits also have USB ports to charge mobile devices and electrical outlets for small, specific electric equipment.
Seat Belt Cutter and Window Breaker
One essential tool you should keep in your car is a combination seat belt cutter and window breaker. This combination tool allows you to free yourself and others from seat belts and shattered windows if you should become trapped upside down in an accident or the car is underwater. This tool is small and handheld. Be sure to store it in a compartment you can reach easily while still constrained by the locked seat belt.
First Aid Kit
The first aid kit will be the first emergency tool you reach for following an accident with minor injuries or should you become injured while repairing a wrecked car. Include bandages, antiseptic, antibiotic ointment, pain reliever, cotton balls, gauze, tweezers, hand sanitizer, and bug spray. Fully stocked first aid kits can be purchased in drug stores and many retail stores.
If you find yourself stuck on the side of the road at night, wearing reflective gear may save your life. Jackets and hats with highly reflective markers allow other drivers to see you and drive safely around you.
Reflective Triangles or Flares
If you are stranded at night or during bad weather, place at least three highly reflective triangles or road flares around your vehicle at some distance from the car. This allows other motorists to see your vehicle in plenty of time to slow down and move past you safely. For extra measure, purchase LED light flares that do not spark to help prevent igniting a fire. These measures also allow emergency responders to quickly you easily.
Spare Tire and Jack
Many cars come equipped with a spare tire, and all have allotted space to carry one. Include a jack rated to handle the weight of your vehicle to prevent the jack from failing and falling on someone.
Should you need to move your vehicle or pull it out of a ditch, carry a sturdy nylon tow strap capable of towing cars up to 6,000 pounds.
A small toolbox of standard tools, such as screwdrivers, hammers, knife cutters, pliers, and other hand tools, can be handy in certain situations.
Carrying blankets is a good idea, even if it is not cold weather. Should you become stranded overnight when temperatures drop, a blanket can help you and your passengers stay warm. Blankets can be an essential item if someone in your group is injured. Covering them to keep them warm until paramedics arrive is a vital emergency step to help minimize the effects of shock from the injury. Compact “space” blankets require much less space than traditional blankets, and those with a reflective material draw in warmth from the sun.
Duct tape can be handy in many roadside situations. Duct tape can be used to reattach car pieces, hold broken light covers in place, cover broken windows, and much more. Duct tape is also very effective for temporarily binding bleeding wounds and broken bones in an emergency.
A can of foam tire sealant is helpful for tires flattened by a hole or puncture. It is not meant as a permanent fix but will repair the tire for a short distance to the nearest service station. Most sealants are rated for less than 100 miles.
In remote areas or traveling long distances, carry a change of clothes for each person, along with coats, hats, and gloves in case you should be stranded in cold temperatures.
Water and Non-Perishable Food
Keep a supply of water and non-perishable food in tightly sealed plastic or metal containers. Nourishment and hydration will be especially crucial should you be stranded for an extended period of time.
This is particularly important if you travel through areas that experience extremely high and low temperatures. Replenish items when used and replace them when they expire.
Whistle or Air Horn
If you become stranded in a remote area, are injured, or experiencing dehydration, you may be unable to scream for others to hear you. Using a loud whistle or air horn creates enough sound to be heard distantly and only minimal effort to use.
Keep your emergency kit packed together in a sealed container. Familiarize family members with each item, where the items are located, and how to use them should you become injured or incapacitated.
This is by no means a comprehensive list of everything you may need for every emergency. Your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles can provide additional information and advice on the best roadside kits.
Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Represent Clients Injured in Motor Vehicle Accidents
Being prepared for an emergency allows you to remain calm and have the right items. Unfortunately, accidents happen regardless of your preparedness. If you have been injured in a car accident, one of our experienced Philadelphia car accident lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC can help. Call us at 215-569-8488 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, Abington, Media, Pennsylvania, and Wilmington, Delaware, we serve clients throughout the surrounding areas.