1. Did you know that more than 40% of drivers in the U.S. do not have an emergency kit in their cars?  The odds are that at some point every driver will need assistance. The three main reasons we need assistance are battery failure, running out of gas and being locked out of the vehicle.  Two of the three reasons can be managed by either not pushing the limits of the fuel gauge and always taking your fob with you. Breakdowns are another situation. They require you to do something to remedy the situation.  If you are a AAA member you can call them and wait for assistance, but depending on the time of year you might be waiting for a while. During the summer and winter seasons they receive over 16 million calls, and the off peak seasons, spring and fall, over 14 million calls.  It’s possible that you can fix your situation and get back on the road in a few minutes, if you have an emergency kit on hand. 
Young man calling for help about his stalled car.

This month, many people will celebrate the holidays and give gifts to others.  Hopefully this blog will inspire you to consider giving yourself or someone else a truly helpful gift, an all inclusive emergency kit.  You can purchase already prepared kits but they are usually lacking items on our list. Take a look at the list and then take the next step and decide who you want to give kits to.  Then start shopping!

All Inclusive Emergency Kit should include the following:

  • Jumper cables
  • Basic tool kit (duct tape, screwdriver, adjustable wrench, pocket knife, pliers) – even if the driver doesn’t know what to do with these things, a person stopping to help might need them.
  • Car escape tool (seat belt cutter and window breaker)
  • A spray can of sealant and tire inflator like Fix-a-Flat
  • Quart of oil
  • Antifreeze 
  • Flares, and/or triangle reflectors (if you live in a moist climate buy ocean grade flares)
  • Blanket
  • Bottled water
  • Granola or energy bars
  • Pet snacks if you own a pet and they travel with you
  • First-aid Kit
  • Flashlight or headlamp with extra batteries
  • A few paper towels or small package of Handi wipes
  • Pen and paper
A first aid kit with contents around the container - bandaids, tweezers, cotton balls, tape and alcohol.

Along with the emergency kit you might include a few written instructions to guide the recipient on how to use some of the tools.

A man using jumper cables on a car battery to charge the dead battery.

How to use jumper cables
Attach one red jumper cable to the positive terminal on the dead battery.  Next attach the other red cable to the positive terminal on the working car battery. Next attach one black jumper cable to the negative terminal on the working car battery.  Last of all, attach the other black jumper cable to an unpainted piece of stationary metal on the car (car’s chassis, a bolt on the engine or the alternator bracket) with the dead battery. DO NOT attach the clamp to the negative terminal of the dead car’s battery as it increases the chance of an explosion or fire if the jump start doesn’t go as planned.  After all clamps are in place try to start the stalled car.

Once the car is running the battery is charging.  Then it’s time to disconnect the cables in this order – disconnect the black jumper cable from the car that was just started.  Next, disconnect the black cable from the car that gave the jump. Next disconnect the red jumper cable from the working car’s positive terminal and then the last step is to remove the red jumper cable from the car that received the jump.

How to use flares
First make sure no gasoline is leaking from your car.  If there is some DO NOT use a flare around your car. After checking if it’s safe to use a flare, walk about 300 feet away from the rear of the car.  This gives other drives enough notice that your car is stalled.

Hold the flare and pull the plastic cap off, exposing the end of the flare.  Check the plastic cap to see if it has fold-out flaps to keep the flare from rolling around.  If so, open them. The exposed end of the flare has a surface that looks like a button. This is the part you will light. 

Hold the flare as far away from your body as possible with your shoulder into the wind. Point the flare away from yourself and others, hold it in the middle and rub the flare briskly with the coarse striking surface of the cap.  It should light similarly to a match. It burns a kind of molten material from its end so be sure to hold it away from you. Next place the cap on the end that is not burning, set it on the ground (hopefully a paved or gravel surface, not in the grass!).

Be sure and extinguish all flares before leaving the site.  Stamp the lighted end on the pavement or douse with water.

Emergency reflector triangle on the ground in back of a stalled car with a man checking the tire.

This may seem like a lot to have in an Emergency Kit but it’s not.  Each item has a very important purpose. You can put them in a storage container or backpack and put a bow on it!  Someday the recipient might give you the biggest thank you hug ever and you might have given them the best present ever.  

All of us at Classic Collision hope this information helps you and your loved ones enjoy a safe holiday season.