You’re driving down the road and suddenly it happens – you get a flat tire, run out of gas, or you skid off the road into a muddy ditch. Maybe it’s late at night. Maybe there just aren’t any other cars around, or you’re out of sight in a snow bank. You’re stuck. The good news is you have a survival kit in your car, with all the tools you need to help remedy the situation or get help. So what exactly is in your kit?
Car Repair Tools
Let’s start with some basics. You should have jumper cables, a flashlight, a folding shovel, some spare fuses, road flares, and a multi-tool piece (one that has small pliers, screw drivers, etc. all in one tool). We’ll assume you have a spare tire and a jack in the car as well. These are all things you should have for a basic car breakdown situation. You should also have a small first aid kit in your car at all times, in case you are hurt in an accident or while making a basic repair.
A Cell Phone
There honestly aren’t a ton of people who don’t have cell phones, but they are out there. Even if you don’t usually carry a phone, you should keep an old one in your car and make sure it is fully charged. You do not need to pay for a cell phone plan to do this. Any phone that is fully charged will allow you to dial 911 in the event of an emergency, and emergency responders will eventually be able to triangulate your approximate location. Just remember to check the phone from time to time to make sure it is still charged.
Other Survival Tools
Let’s say you’re in a bad situation and it may be hours (or days) until someone finds you. It’s easy to say that won’t ever happen to me but it’s safer to have a survival kit in your car for emergencies. A basic survival kit should include an emergency blanket, a raincoat or poncho, a change of clothes, protein bars or MRE (meal-ready-to-eat) bars, reflective tape, water bottles, lighters or matches, a compass, and a small first aid kit in your car at all times.
A blanket and additional clothes will help keep you warm. Lighters and matches will allow you to build a fire. Fire can act as a signal but will also help you stay warm, give you light in the dark, boil water (to purify it), and keep your clothes dry. Reflective tape will allow rescuers to find you and your car. And a first aid kit will help with injuries sustained in a crash while waiting for help. All items should be stored in plastic bags to protect them from water.
Power bars and MRE foods are often recommended because they have a long shelf life and will give you the nutrients your body needs, even if you go a long time between meals.
While none of us want to be in a difficult or life threatening situation, these things do happen. Keep a safety survival kit in your car at all times. It doesn’t take up much space and you’ll be glad you have it if you ever find yourself stranded.