Do-it-yourself car emergency kit

Why buy it when you can build it?
There are dozens of pre-built car emergency kits. They range in price from $20 to $200. Typically they will include a lots and lots of “pieces” like a 73 piece kit from AAA. But when you count the pieces, you realize that they count “bandages” as 20 of those pieces, because, after all, there are 20 bandages. So which car emergency kit should I buy? Maybe none of them.

Build your own kit.
It will be better. It will be fun. And it will have only what you need.

Start with simple questions.
Building your own emergency kit can start with role playing questions. Start by imagining a breakdown in the city, and then a breakdown in the country. Role play the seasons too- is it summer or winter? Rainy or dry season? Is it in your part of the state or are you on a trip? With these scenarios in mind, ask these five questions, and any others you may think of too:

1. What do I need to do first?
Maybe the answer is as simple as: “I need to make sure no one hits my car because I’m in traffic.” This tells you that you need reflective warning triangles and maybe even flares.

2. What will I do if I’m hurt?
This could start you thinking about what type of first aid kit you need. You may have unique health concerns, like asthma. Do you need an extra rescue inhaler in the kit?

3. How will I contact someone?
This can start you thinking about a car cell phone charger or an extra battery. It will also make you think of what to do if you don’t have a signal or your phone is broken. Maybe you’ll want a bright colored flag, or a marker and paper for a sign that tells passing motorists to call for help.

4. What if I’m stuck for hours?
It happens. People get stuck in their vehicles for hours- even days in rare cases. We’ve all seen the stories on the news. Answering this question should take you in many directions. Take notes; don’t trust your memory. Items you will want in your emergency kit will begin with simple things like “extra water” and progress up to “emergency hand crank radio.” It’ll be fun!

5. What basic tools will make it easier for me to get back on the road?
Don’t just think of your own skills with tools. Think about the shade tree mechanic who stops to help. What will they need? Of course we start with the handyman’s secret weapon- duct tape. Talk to friend who knows how to fix basic car “owies.” They can help with this part of the kit.

Now build your list of items.
After you’ve done the role playing exercise, and had fun imagining all of the “what if” scenarios, it’s time to write out a list of things you will need in your emergency car kit. You can compare that list to many of the lists already on the Internet, like here and here and here. I’ll highlight some things that everyone ought to have on their list:

    • First aid kit.
    • Triangle reflectors, flares, emergency tape.
    • Bright colored flag or tarp.
    • Jumper cables, spare tire and jack.
    • Screwdrivers, hammer, bungee cords, duct tape.
    • Bottled water and energy bars.
    • Warm blankets.
    • Car charger for your phone.
    • Roadside Assistance phone number. Your insurance agent can help with this.

Your kit will be better!
Will your own emergency car kit be better? You betcha! You will have thought through what you need in your own geographic area. You will have added items unique to your own needs. You will know everything in your kit, because you chose it item by item. And you will have purchased quality items, because after all, you want this kit to work right if it’s ever needed.

Now let’s get building your emergency kit!

Need insurance? Call Whiteside Insurance at (830) 693-8881.