Vehicle Emergency Kits

Every car or truck should be equipped with an emergency kit.  Even as a member of an automobile club or other roadside assistance group, there may be times when you need to rely on your own resources.  Poor cell reception can mean an inability to call for help.  There may be some injury to deal with until help can arrive.  Weather can have an impact on your ability to deal with the situation.

A well-prepared emergency kit can be a saviour.  Here are some things that it should include:

  • First aid kit

A good first aid kit should contain:

    • Band-aids
    • Ointment for burns
    • Antiseptic cream or wipes
    • Gauze
    • Aspirin
    • Gloves
    • Cotton balls and swabs
    • Adhesive tape

Any personalized items like inhalers or medications should be kept with the person who might need them.  Periodically check for expiration dates and be sure everything is up to date.

  • Fire extinguisher

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) should rate the extinguisher as either class B or C.  Class B is specific to flammable fluids like gasoline, kerosene or diesel fuel.  Class C deal with electrical equipment including batteries, switches, and panel boxes.  Especially before a long trip, review the use of fire extinguishers and check for any expiration dates.  Spontaneous fires in vehicles do happen and it is not by any means over preparing to have a fire extinguisher!

  • Fully charged mobile phone

This is a critical element to summon help when needed.  There are charger units that will plug into your car to keep your phone ready for use.  Be aware, though, it will drain the car battery if you are stalled for a period of time.  It is a good idea to have emergency numbers programmed into the phone especially on speed dial.

  • Flashlight

It is best if this is a waterproof flashlight and a few extra batteries.  Check it at least once a year to be sure the batteries are still good and have not leaked.

  • Warning triangles

Reflective triangles are helpful to warn other drivers that you are having problems.  They should be placed about 50 feet from your vehicle.  You should have at least three in your car at all times.  Use these triangles in addition to using your hazard lights.

  • Tire gauge

This is used to check the air pressure in your spare.  If you have a blowout, you will need to replace the tire with the spare from the trunk.  It will do you no good if that spare is also flat.  It is a good idea to check that tire from time to time to be sure it is properly inflated.

In Toronto, you should keep blankets, gloves and hats to keep you warm in the event of a breakdown.  We also recommend putting in a 4L jug of water in your trunk.  These precautions will keep you comfortable while you wait for help to arrive.  Periodically, or at least annually, you should check to be sure all of these items are in every vehicle in the household.  Each driver should also be oriented to the kit in its entirety and where each item is kept in each vehicle.