It’s always wise to prepare for whatever life throws at you. Emergencies and accidents on the road, in particular, are not something you want to find yourself unequipped. Be it a chipped windscreen, blown tyre or worse, having a car emergency kit at hand is essential to staying safe on the road.
The chances are that at one time or another, you’ll find yourself in an unexpected situation – especially when travelling on Australian roads. How well you’ll cope under challenging circumstances largely depends on what you carry in your car.
9 Must-Have Emergency Kit Essentials
Whether you are driving to the shops down the road or travelling ten hours up North, there are essential items every car emergency kit needs. But what goes into a proper emergency kit? Here’s a list of must-haves!
1. First aid kit
You never know when you’ll need it, but you’ll most likely never regret packing it!
You can buy a first aid kit at most pharmacies or gas stations across the country.
They usually come with a helpful guide as to what first aid is most suitable for your situation. Most first aid kits are very user friendly. But, if it has been a while since your last first aid course, you may want to take a refresher – especially if you are planning on travelling long distances.
Tip: Alternatively, you can collect emergency essentials in a labelled and easily identifiable container. Be sure to include bandaids, gauze, pain killers, antiseptic wipes, bandages, scissors, nail clippers, and tweezers.
2. Owners manual
Most people oversee the value of reading car manuals. Still, in emergencies, they can help you troubleshoot problems by providing you with information on managing any issues safely and effectively. No matter when and where you are driving, we recommend keeping your owner manual handy in your glove box. It can be helpful for anything, from minor mishaps to more significant incidents, such as handling a cracked windscreen or checking your car’s fluid levels.
Tip: Always ensure you put your car’s user manual back in its intended spot so it can be easily accessed when you need it.
3. Jumper leads
Car batteries don’t last forever, regardless of where or how far you are travelling, so it is essential to keep jumper leads at hand in case of an emergency. This is also where keeping your car’s users manual comes in handy to ensure you are using the leads correctly.
Note: Sometimes jumper leads alone aren’t enough to help your car start. In this scenario, your battery is likely worn out and in need of a replacement. If this is the case, call a roadside assistance provider or be confident enough to replace the battery yourself.
4. Torch and spare batteries
Whether your car breaks down or you get lost driving at night, a torch can be immensely helpful to you. When you need light to see and fix your vehicle or read your handheld map, having a working torch can make or break any endeavour.
Tip: Ensure you have spare batteries suited to your torch and any additional devices that may require a battery change.
5. Spare tyre
Most vehicles have a spare tyre compartment. Make sure to check your spare’s air pressure now and then, so it’s ready to go if you ever need to use it. If you don’t know how to change a tyre, your user manual may have some answers. While changing a tyre is an important skill to have, if you don’t feel comfortable teaching yourself on the spot, simply call roadside assistance for help.
6. Poncho and umbrella
Keeping a poncho or umbrella can come in handy for everyday weather misfortunes. More importantly, if you happen to break down in the middle of a downpour, it is essential to have some kind of weather protection gear handy.
In an emergency, you never know what access you will have to your digital map device. A printed map is the perfect backup option if your phone or GPS loses battery, you’re out of network range, or you forgot to download an offline map.
8. Tool kit
Tool kits are the epitome essential of a well-equipped car emergency kit. They’re perfect for minor issues that you can fix yourself. You can buy the appropriate tool kit from any automotive store or make your own with any spare tools you have at home. Ensure that it includes a wrench and spanner set, ratchet and socket set, screwdriver set, pliers, trolley jack, hook and picks set, a hammer and perhaps a battery analyser.
9. Contact details
Keep the numbers of police, ambulance, fire services, insurers, and emergency contacts ready! Suppose you happen to be in an accident and need someone else to call for help for you. In that case, they can use those contact details if you have them available, perhaps in an accessible spot like your glove box or centre console.
What About Road Trip Essentials?
On family vacations and when travelling distant or unfamiliar routes, it is essential to be prepared for the truly unexpected. This might mean packing things you wouldn’t normally consider or ensuring certain items are topped up.
Before travelling long distances, it is also wise to get your vehicle inspected and ensure it is roadworthy. This will help you identify any potential issues you may want to address before leaving for your trip. Here’s what to look out for!
Pack plenty of water
Regardless of how far you are travelling, for longer road trips, in particular, keep extra water in your vehicle. If you get stuck in the middle of nowhere, it can take a while for help to arrive. It may also be helpful if your car needs water and you are not close to access any.
Stock up on oil and coolant
On long road trips, always keep extra fluids in your vehicle for emergency top-ups.
Check your oil levels regularly to prevent major emergencies.
Take plenty of snacks
Non-perishables can be life-savers if you break down and need something to sustain you while waiting for help to arrive. Think dried fruits, nuts and seeds, granola bars, crackers.
Keep spare cash in the car
Keeping some spare change or cash tucked away for emergencies can be extremely helpful if you lose your wallet and run out of fuel. Try and avoid using this lot of cash for quick snack stops, and save it for legitimate emergencies – you’ll thank yourself later.
Carry a portable phone charger
This is relatively self-explanatory, but being able to call for help is extremely important, so keep a portable phone charger on hand. Nothing is worse than a flat phone battery during an emergency. Before and after each trip, ensure it is fully charged and ready to go.
Useful First Aid Additions to Your Car’s Emergency Kit
If you are driving for an extended period of time, it is essential to keep yourself refreshed and any fatigue at a minimum. If you are planning a road trip, consider bringing eye drops to moisten your eyes, painkillers for any potential headaches, and motion sickness tablets for any passengers that may feel unwell on the trip.
You should also always keep in mind that Australian weather can be unpredictable. So keep your car stocked up with emergency gear that can help you out during torrential rain and hail, or through periods of scorching heat.
Store a spare blanket or two in the boot of your vehicle when travelling in cold weather. They may come in handy if you’re stranded in unexpectedly cold weather. If you break down in cold weather and have to wait for help to arrive, you’ll be grateful for having thought ahead.
Tip: Blankets can also come in handy in warm weather, as they can be hung over car doors to provide some extra shade.
Australia is known for being excessively hot and sunny, especially in the summer months when many Aussies explore their home country by car or travel by caravan. A dirty windscreen can create extreme glare and distracting reflections hindering your vision of the road. Keeping glass cleaner and a rag handy will help you quickly rectify this issue.
While this emergency kit list seems sheer endless for a range of hypothetical scenarios, you will thank yourself later for putting in the effort. However, you will hopefully never need most of the items we’ve listed above.
A lot of these essentials will already be lying around your house; it’s up to you to organise and pack them in your vehicle. It is also important to regularly check and maintain your emergency kit to ensure everything is properly functioning and topped up.
If you end up in an emergency situation requiring repairs to your car, contact Novus Autoglass. Need a quick windscreen repair or replacement to keep going on your trip? Novus offers mobile windscreen services for your convenience!