Your bags are packed. The kids are loaded in the car. You’re all ready for that magnificent road trip you’ve dreamed about.
But what about an emergency kit? Sure, it’s spring and there’s less worry about getting stuck on a snow-packed road somewhere, but there are still many reasons to be prepared for the unexpected. An overheated engine or a flat tire in the middle of a trip across hundreds of isolated road miles in the West – many of which still lack cell service – could leave you stranded for a while.
A basic emergency kit doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive. Some of the same things you carry in your winter emergency kit should just stay in your vehicle for the duration of road trips throughout the year. Here’s a checklist of some things to carry.
Phillip Reed, a senior consumer advice editor with car rating company Edmunds.com, suggests keeping jumper cables, flares, a quart of motor oil, a gallon of coolant, a toolkit and, of course, a first-aid kit in your trunk or box within ready reach. Double check the first-aid kit to make sure it is supplied with basics, such as bandages, antiseptic wash and antibiotic cream that’s not out of date.
For the vehicle kit, Reed also recommends keeping a can of tire inflater and sealant, a tire pressure gauge and paper towels.
Some other things to add in an emergency bag are a blanket, a lighter or matches, a pocketknife, a flashlight, extra batteries and enough nonperishable food – such as granola, nuts, peanut butter and crackers – to last a couple of days. It’s a good idea to take a bottle of Gatorade or some packages of electrolyte mix in case you are stuck in a hot spot for a while. And, of course, especially in the summer, take plenty of extra water.
If you do end up stuck, just remember not to eat all your food in one sitting. It might have to last you a few hours or even a few days. Unless you intend to hunt your dinner while you’re stuck, emergency managers suggest portioning your emergency food supplies to last.
Finally, it’s always good to charge your cellphone battery before you start and have a backup battery if possible. Keeping an old-fashioned pen and piece of paper isn’t a bad idea either, in case the cellphone dies for any reason and you need to leave a note for help.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has other suggestions for an emergency kit at ready.gov/car.
Just as when you go camping or hiking or on any other adventure, be sure a friend or other loved one knows where you are going and when you plan to return. Share your travel plans with at least one person who can call for help if you don’t show up when you are supposed to.
With your emergency kit ready and your plans set, go have fun knowing you’re prepared.