Having your car break down is never good, but what if a nightmare scenario happens and you're miles from civilization with no way to call for help? Your best bet is to stay put with your car or truck and wait for someone who can assist you to come along. Leaving your car means leaving shelter, and can lead to you getting lost in the surrounding terrain - making your problem even worse. Below you'll find a list of items that every vehicle should contain. This general list will serve any motorist well, but if you're mechanically inclined you may want to consider adding some small tools to the kit. If you're not mechanically inclined it's not advisable to try to fix the issue as you may make things worse and further complicate rescuing yourself and your vehicle.
Keep warm while awaiting rescue with one or two quality blankets stored in your trunk. Being cold drains energy so it's wise to wrap up warm and not rely on running the heater (if that's even possible). Reflective foil blankets provide better heat insulation if you don't mind spending a little more money.
Flashlight and Extra Batteries
A good bright flashlight will prove invaluable in the event of a breakdown. From seeing what you're doing at night, to signaling other drivers, the flashlight is absolutely essential. A good supply of extra batteries will ensure you're able to keep seeing and signaling until assistance arrives.
First Aid Kit
It's always good to have a first aid kit handy, and this becomes especially true if you're stranded by the side of the road. Simple wounds can become infected and give you another thing to worry about, so dealing with them properly is very important. Never underestimate some simple antiseptic and bandages.
Reflectors and Magnetic Roof Lights
In addition to your flashlight you'll want your emergency kit to contain triangular reflectors at the very least. One of these reflectors will usually come with the car, but having two can't hurt. If you want to make sure you're even more visible to other road users you can pick up some magnetic roof lights to alert other drivers to your presence.
High Energy Non-Perishable Food
You need to keep your strength up while waiting for assistance, and high-energy foods are the best way to achieve this. Non-perishable food items are the simplest way to do this because you don't have to worry about them going bad in your trunk. Try granola bars with distant expiration dates, or even dedicated survival rations, and avoid food (like soup) that is inedible if frozen.
Just as basic as the need for food, (and arguably more important), is your body's need for water. Dehydration can lead to weakness, fatigue, and slow mental performance. It's very important to keep a good supply of water in your emergency kit.
A number of different problems can cause trouble with your vehicle's electrical system. In some cases, jump-starting the engine will provide a temporary fix and allow you to make it to a mechanic. Jumper cables are another highly useful item to keep in your car's emergency bag. Just make sure you know how to use them in the correct way.
In situations where you find yourself stuck in mud, sand or snow, a small shovel can prove incredibly useful in freeing your vehicle, and getting you back on the road. Either stow a small shovel from home in your vehicle's trunk, or purchase a specially designed folding shovel. Folding shovels often have the advantage of being designed as a tool with multiple uses.
Waiting for assistance can be tedious, and it's only going to be worse if you're soaked to the bone and shivering while you do it. A rain poncho will keep you dry when you're outside your vehicle, and is very important to keep your morale up while you wait for help. You can even substitute the poncho for a garbage bag and waterproof hat in a pinch.
High Visibility Vest
While you're running around in the dark, trying to fix your broken car, the last thing you need is to be worrying that another motorist will hit you with their vehicle. A high visibility vest greatly reduces the risk of this happening. After all, you can't be rescued if you can't be seen!
A good whistle allows you to signal with sound as well as with the light from your flashlight and reflectors. Whistles are especially useful in rural settings where there's very little ambient noise, as their high-pitched tone travels well and sounds like nothing else. Whistles can also be used to signal the three-dots-three-dashes-three-dots SOS signal.
Call Merle's Automotive Supply at 520-889-7202 and we'll be happy to help with any questions or auto part needs you may have!