We’ve all been in one of those situations where we wish we had just been a little more prepared. When it comes to road trips, having a breakdown or a flat tyre can actually be quite frightening if it occurs when you’re some distance from the nearest town or roadhouse.
There’s no doubt that GPS and mobile technologies have made travel safer and easier, but there are still risks that can’t always be avoided when out on the open roads. And here in Australia, there are still vast stretches of empty roads on which you really don’t want to become stranded. This is why it’s a good idea to think about things to have in your car that would make up a good emergency car kit.
Let’s Get Started
It goes without saying really, doesn’t it? But it’s surprising how many people pack only what they need for an uninterrupted journey to their destination. It’s impossible to predict what will happen on the road so always take water reserves in your emergency car kit in case you find yourself stuck somewhere.
First Aid Kit
This should be another obvious one for your car safety kit but it is still so often overlooked. The last thing you need is for any kind of medical emergency to go untreated, particularly if it involves kids. A good first aid kit should include the following:
- Cold packs
- CPR mask
- Eye wash
- Gauze pads
- Hand sanitiser
- Non-latex gloves
- Pen and paper
- Oral rehydration salts
- Safety pins
- Medical tape
- Emergency blanket (foil blanket)
These should be a permanent addition to every emergency car kit. Don’t rely on other road users to have them; ensure you have your own so you don’t have to wait for a more prepared road user to help breathe a little life back into your dead battery.
Spare Tyre & Jack
Don’t go pulling them out just to free up a little boot space or to reduce weight. The day will come when you’ll regret that decision!
We all like to think we know our way around the car. We’ve been driving for years, we know what this button does and where the fuse box is, right? Don’t count on it. Having the manual at hand in your emergency car kit will make troubleshooting much easier.
You never know how long you may be waiting for roadside assistance, so it’s never a bad idea to pack a few snacks just in case. In a high stress situation you may also need to keep the kids quiet so you can focus on what you need to do. Depending on the weather, you may or may not be able to keep snacks in your car at all times, so this may be an item for your road trip checklist rather than a permanent fixture.
It mostly seems to happen in cheesy Hollywood movies, but nevertheless, you really don’t want your phone battery going dead at a time when you need it the most. Most new cars such as the Skoda Octavia Wagon have mobile phone integration, which means it will charge when it’s plugged in, so long as the ignition is on. But if your car doesn’t come with a feature like this then it’s a good idea to buy a phone charger that you can plug into the cigarette lighter.
Road Map Book
We all use our phones or in-car GPS systems to navigate for us these days, but technologies like these can go down, especially if you’re in an isolated area or in a black spot. Keep a book of road maps in your emergency car kit.
Strangely, these are not all that common in Australian cars, yet they are an important part of any emergency car kit. They help alert oncoming traffic to your presence on the side of the road, keeping you safer while you wait for roadside assistance or while you’re fixing the problem yourself.
This one may not apply to many motorists but is an important piece of kit for off-road driving. Getting out of a bog may require you to let some air out of the tyres to increase traction. You’ll then need a way to get air back into the tyres, so if you’re interested in taking your vehicle off-road then it would be wise to invest in an air compressor for your car safety kit.
If letting down the tyres hasn’t worked, a tow may be the next best option. Just like with the jumper cables, don’t rely on others to be better equipped than you.
Especially in a hot and dry country like Australia, a fire extinguisher may be all that stands in the way of a complete disaster. Fire extinguishers need regular servicing so make sure you follow the manufacturer guidelines to ensure it is in suitable condition at all times.
Prepare for the weather
These are probably the most important things to have in your emergency car kit, regardless of the climate conditions in which you live and travel. However, provisions for inclement weather may be worth considering too, such as:
- Jumper and other warm clothing
- Rain poncho
Use your best judgment
Obviously most people need the cargo areas of their cars for transporting things every now and then. A trip round the corner to the shops may not necessitate a few days of food and water, so it may not be possible to keep such comprehensive emergency car kits in the car at all times. Instead, it may be more practical to just have these items set aside in a pre-prepared kit to be kept in the garage. That way it’s ready to go next time you pack the car for your next road trip.