Knowing you’ve got everything you need stashed in the boot for almost any eventuality gives you the kind of peace of mind money just can’t buy.
So, this is our gift to you: a short, smart, inexpensive checklist of what to put in an emergency car kit and what you should carry for use in the event of a collision that could be a lifesaver.
As they say in the Scouts: be prepared!
Should you be involved in a collision, have a roadside emergency or even have an emergency during winter, we’ve got 10 tips to help you be prepared.
1. Scraper and de-Icer
A scraper and de-icer are absolutely essential to have in your winter car emergency kit! Even if you do have a heated windscreen, you have lots of other windows that will need to be cleared for safe visibility on those frosting mornings in winter.
The de-icer speeds the melting process of snow and ice, and the scraper finishes the job – just the ticket when you need to get to work, it’s baltic and you don’t want your tootsies to turn to icicles. There are also other ways to de-ice your car if you don’t have de-icer spray. Home ingredients such as salt and water or hand sanitiser will also work.
Have you ever needed to change a flat tyre on a country road late at night? It sounds like the start of a good scary movie but it’s also a total nightmare back in the real world. But this one ends differently because you’ve already seen the light and stashed a wind-up torch in the boot – clever human!
A battery torch is better than nothing but don’t forget to check those batteries periodically. And if you can stretch to a head torch, you’ll also be able to change that tyre in a jiffy. Or at least be visible to some kind passing stranger who’s handy with a wheel brace.
You’ll most likely have a good coat with you when you’re out driving in the winter which will keep the cold at bay should you have to wait for breakdown assistance and have to wait for help, but it’s always useful to keep a blanket in the car – especially if your heating’s faulty or you have passengers.
A blanket is not only a winter car essential, in summer, that blanket will also come in handy for impromptu picnics!
4. High-visibility jacket
We know. It’s hardly high fashion but a hi-vis jacket could be a lifesaver if you have to leave your car because of a car breakdown emergency, and whether in the dark or on a busy road.
Some countries, like Spain and France, require you to keep one hi-vis jacket in the passenger compartment for every passenger in the car – that’s how important they think it is to be prepared for the worst.
5. First aid kit
Seems like good simple common sense – at any time of year - but how many of us keep a basic first aid kit in the car? If you’ve got children it can come in pretty useful for minor cuts and grazes, allergies or just some TLC for a bruised knee. A plaster can work wonders in stopping the tears!
You can pick up a basic kit at any good pharmacy or you can easily put one together yourself – don’t forget to include:
- Cleansing wipes
- Antibiotic cream
- Anti-itch cream
- Allergy medication, like Benadryl
6. Jump leads
With lights on more, wipers going and the heating up full tilt, your car battery is under a lot more pressure in winter. That makes a flat battery much more likely. Keep a set of jump start leads in the car as part of your roadside emergency kit and you can quickly get back on the road.
If you’re wondering where to buy jump leads, check out Halfords or Argos.
7. Two reflective warning signs
Another essential item to have in your car breakdown kit when driving in Europe. Reflective warning signs can give you additional safety if you break down on a bendy back road! Use your hazard lights first and foremost, but warning signs can be placed around bends or before bumps to warn drivers there’s a hazard ahead.
Two means you can place one in front of your car and one at the back. One word of warning: warning signs should NEVER be used on motorways as they can blow into the path of other drivers and cause danger.
Not just a fashion item, sunglasses are essential to helping visibility in low sun glare. Keeping a pair in the car at all times is a good idea especially given our ever changing weather – it might be raining when you leave the house, but it could be sunny when you get where you’re going. Even if that’s only five minutes down the road!
9. Engine oil
Some cars can burn up to a litre of oil every couple of thousands of miles and older cars might be a little worse for it. Every driver should have a can of engine oil in the boot so it’s always handy to top up.
Read More: Service Please! Your Car will Thank You for It!
10. Windscreen wash
We’ve all been there – stuck behind a tractor or lorry in mizzly weather and you run out of windscreen wash right when you’ve just wiped mulch all over your field of vision.
Even on a dry day, windscreen wash is essential for safety and visibility – dry wipers scraping across your windscreen isn’t a good look – or sound! But you’ve had the foresight to stash some windscreen wash in your boot. Just pull over, pop the bonnet and hey presto, you’re good to go!
Stop putting it off if you haven't already prepared an emergency kit for your car. Get packing today! Find an old storage box or cardboard box to fit everything into. Hopefully, you’ll never have to use it but at least you'll have peace of mind on your next road trip.
Car insurance is also essential for car emergencies. Get an online quote for car insurance in minutes with extras such as breakdown assistance, legal expenses and keycare available as well as a 24-hour emergency claims line for when you’re in need.