How to be ready for anything: The roadside emergency kit
Hood of a car up with someone inspecting the engine

Canadian weather can be unpredictable and car breakdowns can happen when you least expect it. Whether you’re planning a road trip or commuting to work every day, a roadside emergency kit will help you be ready for (almost) anything. It’s best to be prepared so you can have peace of mind driving. Learn what items to include in your roadside emergency kit and when you might need them.

1. What should a roadside emergency kit have?

Battery-operated flashlight

A flashlight is an essential item to have in your car. In an emergency, it’s critical that you can see your surroundings and know how to get yourself and others to safety. Be sure to also include extra batteries.

Phone charger

Most cell phones have a flashlight built-in, which is handy. But in winter, they can quickly lose their charge from cold temperatures. This is why it’s important to have a wireless charger to extend your phone’s battery.

TIP: In an emergency, the first step is dialing 911. Stay calm and make sure no one is hurt. Using your phone to call for help is just one of the many ways a cellphone can be a lifesaver. Learn how your smartphone can help you in an emergency.

10-foot jumper cable

It’s recommended to have a jumper cable that’s at least ten feet long in your roadside emergency kit. If you are unable to move your car, a longer jumper cable is easier to connect.

A small tool kit

Tools will come in handy if you need to do minor repairs to your vehicle. You can buy a kit off the shelf or make your own kit based on the needs of your vehicle.

Consider adding these items to your roadside emergency kit:

  • Multipurpose utility tool
  • Screwdrivers
  • Assorted hex keys
  • A basic socket set
  • Wire cutters
  • Tire gauge
  • Zip ties and duct tape

TIP: Familiarize yourself with how to use each tool. In an emergency, knowing how to use your tools will be much more helpful. Keep in mind that certain tools are better depending on the make and model of your vehicle.

A tire repair kit and pump

Which is easier—changing a tire or adding air to it? The second option is a lot less hassle. Again, make sure you teach yourself ahead of time how to use the tire pump and how to apply a tire patch on a slow leak. Don’t worry, hardware store kits will usually include instructions.

Canned emergency water and energy bars

Consider buying emergency water in aluminum cans. It has a shelf-life of 50 years and unlike plastic, no chemicals will leach into the water. Don’t use glass bottles as they could crack or explode in extreme cold.

It’s also a good idea to have some energy bars or other snacks that won’t spoil. Just remember to replace them if you get a hunger craving.

2. What should be in a winter car kit?

When the leaves start falling and the air gets cooler, it’s time to think about adding some winter items to your roadside emergency kit. You can either keep these items in your car year-round or add them back in when you do a six-month checkup.

Winter weather can mean black ice, reduced visibility and snow. Having these additional items in your roadside emergency kit will be useful if you get into an accident.

Gloves, a blanket, candle-powered heater

If you’re waiting for roadside assistance or a first responder, you’ll need to stay warm. So, you should always dress appropriately for the weather. If you accidentally lock yourself out of your car in the middle of winter, you’ll be thankful if you have mitts and a warm jacket on.

A candle-powered heater is another item to have in your winter car kit. All you need is a metal soup can, an emergency candle and a lighter. A candle can keep you surprisingly warm while you’re waiting for help to arrive.

Ice scraper, snow shovel and… cat litter

You’ll need an ice scraper in your car once the snow comes. Before you start driving you should always clear all your windows, mirrors and the roof of your vehicle of snow and ice.

If you do get into an accident in the winter, having a snow shovel and cat litter can help you if you’re stuck in the snow. First dig your car out and then sprinkle some cat litter for better traction.

TIP: Keep a few hand and feet warmers in your purse or glove compartment. They easily activate by shaking.

3. Why road flares are good to have in a car emergency kit

Road flares (or LED flares) are universally known as distress signals. They are helpful for reducing traffic speed and moving traffic away from a collision. If you have an accident in bad weather conditions, or in a dangerous area with a blind curve or a non-existent shoulder, you might consider using flares.

Make sure you read the instructions before using them.

4. How often should you check your roadside emergency kit?

You should review the items in your roadside emergency kit every six months. Take an inventory of what you have, if anything has expired or needs replacing. Make sure your chargers are fully charged and any seasonal items have been added or removed.

You never know when you could get into an accident or have mechanical problems. This is why every driver should have a roadside emergency kit stored in their vehicle. Hopefully, having tools handy can help you get your car get back up and running. And if your situation is more severe, you’ll have a few survival essentials to keep you safe.

TIP: Most of these items can also be used for your home emergency kit.


 
Open <What to put in a roaside emergency kit> text transcript

[Sound of car starting and car door closing while graphics of emergency kit items come onto the screen]
[On-screen text: How to be ready for anything
Roadside Emergency Kit]

[Cheerful upbeat music while a blue toy car comes onto the screen]
[On-screen text: Knowing you’re ready for anything is empowering.
One of the best ways to be prepared is to have an emergency car kit.]

[Sound of wind howling while snow piles onto the blue toy car on screen]
[On-screen text: Not sure what to put in your emergency car kit?
A few suggestions…]

[Cheerful upbeat music while graphics of a road flare and reflective triangles comes onto the screen]
[On-screen text: Road flares or reflective triangles]

[Cheerful upbeat music while graphics of a battery-operated flashlight comes onto the screen]
[On-screen text: A battery-operated flashlight]

[Cheerful upbeat music while graphic of a phone charger comes onto the screen]
[On-screen text: You should also have a phone charger]

[Cheerful upbeat music while the blue toy car windshield wipers the snow off the windshield.]
[On-screen text: A few tools you might need…]

[Cheerful upbeat music while graphics of 10 ft. jumper cables, a small tool kit, a tire repair kit and pump, gloves, a multipurpose utility tool, and duct tape come onto the screen]
[On-screen text: 10 ft jumper cables
A small tool kit
A tire repair kit and pump
Gloves
A multipurpose utility tool
Duct tape]

[Cheerful upbeat music while the blue toy car sits in the snow]
[On-screen text: Stuck? A small shovel and cat litter for traction (yes, we said cat litter)]

[Cheerful upbeat music while graphics of a warm blanket, bottled water, a rain poncho, matches and long-burning candles come onto the screen]
[On-screen text: While you’re waiting for help to arrive:
A warm blanket
Bottled water
A rain poncho
Matches and long-burning candles]

[Cheerful upbeat music while all the emergency graphics come onto the screen]
[On-screen text: Keep it all together…
Keep your emergency kit in a durable canvas bag, backpack or a small carry-on bag – whatever works best!]

[Cheerful upbeat music while the blue toy car drives across the road]
[On-screen text: For road trips or commuting to work, an emergency kit will help you be ready for anything. + Sonnet logo]

Coverage your car’s always wanted at a competitive price.