Ever since the first Model T rolled off the assembly line, cars have allowed us to not only make quick trips to the corner store, but also embark on impromptu cross-country adventures. With so much freedom at your fingertips, it’s important to be prepared for anything by keeping a well-stocked emergency kit on board at all times. That way, if you ever find yourself stranded across town or fixing a flat on Highway 101, you’ll have all the supplies you need to get you through.

Emergency kit staples

Opinions on the must-have emergency items for year-round driving vary. If you’re a car buff who can change oil with your eyes closed, you might benefit from storing an extra quart in your car. But if you rely on the experts for your maintenance, keeping oil, fuses, and a plethora of tools in your trunk might not do you much good.

That being said, here are the essentials everyone needs for a roadside emergency kit:

  • Cell phone and charger
  • First aid kit (bandages, gauze, adhesive tape, antiseptic cream, instant ice and heat compresses, scissors, and aspirin)
  • Spare tire or tire repair kit
  • Jack (if your car doesn’t come with one)
  • Flares
  • Tire pressure gauge
  • A little extra cash
  • Jumper cables
  • Extra wiper fluid
  • Flashlight
  • Blanket
  • AM/FM radio
  • Bottled water and nonperishable snacks
  • Pen and paper

Summer saviors

With its carefree nature and sunny skies, summer has a way of making worries melt away. But before you hop in the car to go camping in the Grand Canyon, be sure to take inventory of your emergency kit and add these extra items to your stash:

  • An additional gallon of water (can be used to help cool an overheated engine)
  • Sunscreen
  • Fire extinguisher (in case your car really overheats)
  • Reflective sunshade (to keep the interior at a comfortable temperature)
  • A rain jacket

Winter additions

We’ve given you our opinion on how to be prepared for winter weather previously, but just to keep it fresh in your head, here’s what to add to your emergency kit to round it out during the colder months:

  • Non-clumping kitty litter (might seem strange, but if you ever get stuck in a snow bank, you’ll thank us)
  • Shovel
  • Gloves
  • Ice scraper
  • Extra warm clothes
  • Chains

Safety for all seasons

It’s also important to remember that keeping up on routine car maintenance can help you squash surprises on the road. So whether it’s a 5-minute trip for takeout, or a 2-week excursion to SoCal, be sure to keep your oil fresh and your safety kit stocked for any situation.

Safe and smart | Car safety


about Jennifer

A Motor City native, Jennie spent a few years knee-deep in automotive before heading to San Francisco to join the Esurance team as a copywriter. In addition to words, she’s a big fan of running, Detroit Tiger baseball, and the Trader Joe’s cheese aisle.