What should you have in your car in case of an emergency?By Kijiji Autos
Most of us—myself included—don't have everything we might need in our vehicles in case of an emergency.
Of course, it’s unlikely you’ll use every item in this article, but what you don’t use could end up helping another driver.
Here’s a list of practical—and in some cases essential—items to have in your vehicle in case of an emergency.
Food and water
You should always carry some emergency food provisions in your vehicle. However, make sure you choose simple items that have a long shelf life. Granola or energy bars, nuts or canned foods are your best options. Don’t forget that if you do need them, you’ll probably be eating them cold, since a microwave oven isn’t part of this list. If you decide to include canned foods, be sure to add a can opener to your kit. A few bottles of water, preferably in plastic bottles, are also a must. I recommend you bring water each time you drive, in addition to the water in your emergency kit, especially in winter, when the water in your kit may be frozen.
Blankets, clothing and shoes
It’s one thing when a car breaks down in summer, but it’s a completely different problem on a cold winter’s day. It’s a good idea to carry one or more blankets in case you’re stuck or your car won’t start in cold weather. If the passenger compartment turns cold, a blanket and a few extra pieces of clothing will help you stay warm, and an extra pair of shoes or boots will come in handy if your feet get wet.
First aid kit
If you do nothing else, put a first aid kit in your car. There are all kinds of kits to choose from, and their contents may vary. Try to find one that’s as complete as possible, and don’t forget to check the expiry date on any ointments in the kit. Also, add scissors that aren’t just intended to cut bandages but that are strong enough to cut through clothing and even a seatbelt, as extreme as that sounds. Another practical addition is a whistle. This may seem odd at first, but if you need to attract someone’s attention, a whistle is a lot better than yelling at the top of your lungs.
Shovel, ice scraper, snow brush, antifreeze, and washer fluid
I don’t have to remind Canadians to put an ice scraper and snow brush in their car in winter. A shovel may not be automatic, but it can become your best friend if you’re stuck in a snowbank. There are many shovel models on the market with retractable handles for easy storage in a car. Be careful about storing antifreeze, however, especially if you have pets or are driving in rural areas. Antifreeze has a sweet odour and taste that attracts animals, so be sure to store it where they can’t get at it. It can be poisonous if ingested.
Candles, matches and a flashlight
In winter, candles can come very handy. Not only will they provide a little light if it’s dark out, but can even help heat the passenger compartment of the car. If you buy bucket candles like the one in the photo, you won’t have to worry about wax dripping onto the car’s interior. You’ll also need matches to light your candles. I’m aware that lighters exist, but matches are more reliable and don’t require lighter fuel. A flashlight is also very useful in case of an emergency at night and will help you find other things in your kit. It’s preferable to buy a hand-crank flashlight rather than one that’s battery-powered. If you go the battery-powered route, don’t forget you’ll also need spare batteries.
Sand, salt, cat litter, booster cables and flares
Sometimes we just need a little help to get out of trouble. Sand, salt or even cat litter can be very practical in giving you that bit of extra traction to set your vehicle free. If you decide on cat litter, choose the non-clumping kind. Booster cables can also be of service in starting your vehicle if the battery runs low. Plan on adding a few flares as well so that you can secure the area around your car once you’ve pulled off to the side of the road. This way, other drivers will get an early warning and use more caution when they pass you.
Tire repair kit and portable compressor
Flat tires happen to us all. If your car has one, you’ll be glad you took some precautionary steps. A tire repair kit will enable you to fix a flat and drive to the nearest garage. With a portable compressor you can add air to a tire that’s flat or partially deflated. Even with a puncture, you may be able to inflate the tire enough to get to a service station. Also keep in mind that most new cars no longer come with a spare tire, just an emergency repair kit. If you have a late model vehicle, check the trunk to see what you have.
If you carry the items listed in this article, you’ll be ready for just about anything. You’ll probably increase your fuel consumption by 1 litre/100 kilometres or so, but it’ll be worth it. In all likelihood, you won’t need all of these things for your day-to-day driving. But if you’re planning a longer trip, heading somewhere you’ve never been, or don’t have access to roadside assistance, these items may prove extremely useful. It’s simply a case of being proactive.
Easily find your next ride on Kijiji AutosSearch now
How to take care of your hybrid or electric vehicle
Hybrid and electric vehicles have proven to work wonders when it comes to lowering greenhouse gas emissions, but they still need proper care and maintenance to run properly. If you own or are considering buying an eco-friendly car, here are some ways to keep your vehicle in peak...
How to plan a classic Canadian road trip in your hybrid or electric car
From the Atlantic seaboard to the vast expanse of the Pacific ocean, the beauty of Canada's landscape has beckoned drivers to explore the country, inspiring some of the most epic road trips. If you want to add your name to the growing list of cross-country travelers, here's how you can prepare...
5 simple things to check before your next winter road trip
Whether you're planning your family's next big winter road trip or simply want to prepare your car for winter driving, it's important to know what to look for. Make sure to check these five frequently overlooked elements to ensure that your car is ready to complete a winter journey safely. Your...
Tackling your first winter of driving in Canada
To say Canada has some pretty drastic weather changes over one calendar year is an understatement. Summer driving here is much like the rest of the world, but our winters are a whole different experience. If the upcoming winter driving season is your first, here are some tips on how to make the...
How to prepare for driving in the snow
Whether you've recently moved provinces or are gearing up for your first winter behind the wheel, driving in the snow can often be an unnerving experience. It takes a special approach and lots of patience to get comfortable driving on slippery surfaces. These tips are designed to help you master...
How to maintain your car's engine during the winter
If you want a safe and smooth driving experience during the harsh winter months, a well-maintained engine is essential. Fortunately, a little bit of effort goes a long way. Here are our top tips to help you keep your engine running smoothly through the snowy months. Your well-being remains our...
Tips to lengthen your car's lifespan without overspending
Whether you're saving up for something special or trying to be more wary of daily costs, living on a budget can be difficult. Owning a vehicle can make matters even more complicated thanks to rising fuel costs and potential repairs. Is there an easy way to guarantee that your car operates...
What are glow plugs and what do they do?
You might hear the term glow plug and immediately think that it's just a fancy name for ""spark plug"", and a mechanic is trying to make your car trouble sound worse than it is. But don't be misled: spark plugs and glow plugs (also spelled ""glowplugs"" or ""glow-plugs"") are actually different.
How does your car's electrical system work?
Cars have been so integral to our lives that we tend to take for granted how they work. We know a car needs gas, but we barely spend any time learning about the very thing that keeps the car running: the car's electrical system. Your well-being remains our top priority. Please seriously consider...
What do my car’s safety features actually do?
With every passing year, safety systems in vehicles continue to become increasingly complex. New cars now come standard with a number of safety features that would have been considered premium add-ons only a few years prior. While some newly developed innovations are still optional—for the time...