At Stewart’s Donnybrook Automotive, we want drivers and passengers to be prepared for the unexpected. In addition to regular car and truck maintenance to keep your vehicle running smoothly and safely, we can’t stress the importance of always having an organized, well planned, auto emergency kit. We also realize there’s a broad line between a bare-essentials emergency kit and a full-blown everything-you-could-ever-possibly-need-apocalyptic-doomsday emergency kit for your vehicle. Whichever end of the spectrum you may land, keeping tools in your vehicle to change a tire is universally quintessential as a car owner. It’s essential to keep these tools – a car jack, a tire iron, and a full spare (or a temporary donut spare at the very least) – on board your car, truck, or SUV at all times. Without these tools, you will ultimately be relying on others to help you should you run into a flat during any of your journeys. If you’re unsure how to change a tire, it’s an extremely versatile skill to know and is worth learning, which can be made easier with the plethora of YouTube tutorials that exist today.
Before assembling your auto emergency kit, the first step is finding a container of some kind to hold your supplies and keep them organized. Aside from the annoying racket that will sound from letting your supplies haphazardly roll around in your trunk, it can potentially damage the gear you might need in case of an emergency. An emergency kit bag, duffel, backpack, or box are all great options. All these containers can vary in size, which is handy depending on your needs, but it’s helpful to have one large enough to hold all your supplies to keep them safe and organized.
If tire changing tools are the quintessential emergency tool for your car, water is the quintessential emergency item for you. Water is arguably the most critical survival supply. It’s easy to forget what a precious resource water is, as most of us have clean water readily available to us at the switch of a faucet. But when you find yourself in an emergency situation without water, your survival countdown clock starts ticking. As typical water bottles/gallons can tear/burst easily because of their thin plastic containers, it’s important to have a durable water container, such as a single-walled, stainless steel water bottle.
The second water-related emergency tool to have is a water filtration device. If you ever find yourself in a situation where you’ve used your remaining water and are now without man’s greatest resource, the next supply you’ll need is a tool that can turn natural water into drinking water. If you have to use your emergency water stash, it will likely go quickly. In many cases, you can hopefully find a natural water source nearby – a small creek, lake, pond, puddle, whatever. Drinking unpurified natural water is a big gamble, though. It can deceptively look clean and delicious, but you can’t discern all the micro bacteria by looking alone. Drinking contaminated water can make you seriously ill, which can turn a serious emergency situation deadly very quickly. There are many compact water filters and purification systems that are perfect for a vehicle emergency kit.
There are a few other valuable car repair tools to include in your kit outside of tire repair tools. Outside of a flat tire, the two other leading causes of you and your vehicle becoming stranded in the middle of nowhere are a dead battery and running out of fuel. The best way to avoid this is to be preventative rather than reactive with an emergency kit. If you know or suspect that you might be driving in the middle of nowhere at some point, it’s important to make sure your battery and fuel (and by extension, all your vehicle’s hardware) are healthy and running smoothly. It’s always recommended to take your car to a professional mechanic before any potentially dangerous treks or long road trips in your car. But still, things happen even with prep work, so it’s important to include supplies to address any issues with these parts. Thanks to technological advancements, external batteries are becoming more and more compact. While keeping jumper cables in your car is always a good idea, the jumper cables à la carte require another car to help get yours running again. Keeping a charged spare battery keeps you prepared in any situation should your vehicle’s battery fail you.
We should all try following the Grandfatherly advice to “fill up your tank when it gets below half.” But we live busy lives and are usually guilty of filling up closer to Empty. In these scenarios, if we’re lucky, there will be a gas station in the next quarter mile, but sometimes our luck runs out along with our gasoline. As a flammable fluid, fuel/gasoline should be treated with caution, but there are several specially designed fuel bottles meant to hold fuel for up to a few months, as fuel has a limited shelf life. Keeping a little extra fuel properly stored and away from any heat source or other passengers can be just the thing to keep in your emergency kit to help you out of a stranded pinch.
And now for some honorable mentions to include in your emergency vehicle kit should they seem fitting and necessary for your circumstances. Just as we like to keep strangers out of our car by locking it from the outside, it’s important to know how to escape the inside of a locked car. A glass breaker can be vital for vehicle emergencies if your door is refusing to open. Additionally, a belt cutter can help remove restrictive seat belts refusing to unlatch. While most smartphones have a decent built-in flashlight, save your phone battery for more important things by keeping a portable flashlight (or two or three) in your car. Emergency strobe lights, flares, or rescue mirrors can be helpful if you’re needing to attract attention to find help.
Additionally, smoke flares, or creating your own fire with a lighter can be a great way to call attention to your location. A rescue whistle can be a good attention grabber to those in closer proximity to you, to make a calling sound which your voice cannot; take a lesson from Rose at the end of Titanic and keep a whistle on board with you.
A first aid kit is a staple in any emergency kit, and your emergency vehicle kit is no exception. While it can’t do much for serious injuries, it’s certainly better than no medical attention at all and is great for minor injuries/medical problems.
We live in a technological world and must also prepare accordingly. Keep roadside assistance numbers in your phone (specifically ones that offer evening and weekend assistance). Solar charging is growing more popular, and while you may be left without a power outlet, the sun can provide a charge to your devices through the use of portable solar chargers. They can easily be ordered online and found in stores in your area.
Finally, and this can be solid advice anywhere you go, keep a snack on hand. In an emergency vehicle kit, calories are more important than taste, so it’s best to play astronaut and keep foods that will “keep” in your car for long periods of time and will withstand temperature swings.
At Donnybrook Automotive, we want to make sure you and your car are prepared for the unexpected. We are always ready and willing to offer suggestions for you, your family’s, and your car’s safety and reliability.