Just about everyone experiences the dreaded roadside breakdown at one time or another. Among other factors, the difference between this experience posing a major inconvenience or even a safety threat and merely creating an added expense with which you don’t want to deal comes down to your car’s safety kit. Keeping a few everyday items in your vehicle at all times will keep you safe and warm in the event of a breakdown and quickly help you get back on the highway.
Even if you’re glued to your phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week, accidents happen. In the off chance you forget or let your phone die on the day of your breakdown, keep a spare cell phone handy in your emergency kit. To eliminate the expense of an additional plan, it should be prepaid. Try to buy a charger with an adapter that plugs into your car’s cigarette lighter. In remote areas, keep a CB radio handy as well.
Tire gauge and portable pump
Better yet, look for a two-in-one pump and gauge at your local auto parts store. These nifty devices let you check your tire pressure and can pump them up if you have a power source handy. You don’t need to wait for a breakdown to use it, either. Check your tire pressure monthly and adjust as needed.
In an emergency, tire foam can be the difference between making it to the mechanic and being stuck on a remote highway for hours. It’s cheap and readily available at most big-box stores. You may have to junk your tire once you make it to the shop, though, since the foam residue will make it difficult to patch permanently.
You’d be surprised how many supposedly “prepared” drivers forget this basic piece of equipment. You shouldn’t be walking away from your broken-down car at night unless it’s absolutely necessary, but if you have to scan the ground for a misplaced part or walk up a dark road to the nearest call box, you’ll need a flashlight.
If it’s a battery issue that’s caused you to break down, a simple jump may be all you need to get back on the road. Fellow drivers will have a hard time refusing to help if you have jumper cables at the ready.
Bottled water and packaged food
You don’t need to stock up for the apocalypse or anything, but a day’s supply of high-calorie trail mix, nutrition bars, and other like packaged foods as well as a couple bottles of water will help keep you energized and clear-headed if you break down in a remote area.
If you’re driving in the winter, you’ll need a few extra pieces of equipment. These include a small snow shovel, sand or cat litter for emergency traction, and a windshield scraper. Make sure you have a spare set of winter gloves and a hat as well.
You may rely on it for just about everything else, but your cell phone won’t protect you if you break down on a remote road in a dead zone. A well-stocked road safety kit will keep you safe and comfortable until the cavalry arrives. Restock it regularly.
Candice Stone is a full-time freelance writer living in New York. She recommends the site, www.roadsiderecovery.com for finding the Types of roadside assistance available. They have good reviews here to guide you through the process of roadside assistance.