We all do our best to plan and prepare so that dangerous emergency situations don’t happen. But, despite our best efforts, sometimes those situations arise, and that’s why you need to prepare for those occasions when other preparations fail.

Your roadside emergency kit is meant to get you safely through those few but inevitable times when things go wrong on the road. It can mean the difference between getting back on the road . . . or being stranded for hours. Let’s see what you need then.

Customize your kit

A good roadside emergency kit will always have certain essential items, but you should also custom-build it to meet your specific needs and the demands of your area.

  • Assemble multiple kits and have back-up kits. Different seasons present different challenges, so you’ll need kits tailored specifically for each season – for example, plenty of warm clothing and de-icer for harsh winter conditions.
  • Assemble your roadside emergency kit according to the weather in your area. If, say, you live in the hot Southwest, you probably don’t need to include an ice scraper and cat litter for traction on ice.
  • Include supplies and items that will meet your individual family needs. For example, if you have an infant, extra diapers may be a good idea.

The most essential items

There are lots of items that can and should go into your roadside emergency kit, including:

  • Flares and reflectors
  • First-aid kit
  • Granola bars
  • Flashlight
  • Tools
  • Spare tire and jack
  • Cat litter (for traction)
  • Small shovel
  • Ice scraper
  • Phone charger
  • Tire gauge
  • Tire pump
  • Bottled water

Here, though, are our picks for the 5 absolutely essential items you just can’t do without:

1. Jumper cables – The number-one item for your emergency kit is a good set of jumper cables because your battery will die at worst possible moment (and you’ll also be able to help other people in that predicament). Just make sure you buy quality cables with large, sturdy clamps and that they are long enough to reach from battery to battery.

2. Extra coolant/water – An extra gallon of coolant and water (or a 50/50 mix) can be a life saver when it’s extremely hot or you develop a leak somewhere in the cooling system of your car.

3. Extra motor oil – An extra quart or two of motor oil (and a funnel) can keep your car going when things go wrong or when you forget to check the oil before heading out.

4. Water for drinking – If you do happen to get stranded for an extended period, especially during the summer, a jug of water or some bottled water can make the experience much more bearable. It could even save your life in extreme situations.

5. Blankets and warm clothing – In the wintertime, especially in northern climates, blankets and warm clothing in your roadside emergency kit can literally save you life. You never know how long you’ll be stranded, so you should prepare for the worst.

Bonus: The most important item of all

Of course, you’ll have your cell phone with you. (You wouldn’t dare leave the house without it, would you?) So the absolutely number-one essential item for your roadside emergency kit is a phone number. Yep, just a single essential phone number – and that is the number for a reliable towing service with fast response times.

At Henry’s Towing, we use state-of-the-art, web-based systems for taking and tracking calls because immediate service is our top priority. With a fleet of 30+ tow trucks equipped with GPS tracking and with trained, experienced drivers, Henry’s is able to provide the help you need when things go wrong.