Before setting off on any car journey, whether long or short, it’s important that you’ve packed some car essentials. Michael Bannon, Aviva’s Motor Underwriting Manager, shares a list of 15 essentials you should store in your car should you need them during an unexpected breakdown, cold spell or simply to keep safe while driving. Often referred to as an emergency car kit or car breakdown kit, these items can be stored in a box in the boot of your car or a bag under the seat for easy access.
What to Store in Your Emergency Kit
1. Hi-vis vest
Ensure you have a hi-vis vest in your boot or front compartment. If you need to exit the car during a breakdown or emergency situation, it will keep you as visible as possible. You can order a free hi-vis vest from the Road Safety Authority using an ordering process online.
2. Map/Sat Nav
Your car should be home to a good road atlas, especially for longer trips. And while more expensive, it’s also worth investing in a GPS navigation tool such as a Garmin or TomTom device. A good map or sat nav can help you if you get lost but it’s also useful for planning those exciting road trips.
Make sure your mobile phone is fully charged before you set off on a journey – just in case you have a breakdown and need to call for assistance. Remember that it’s a motoring offence to use your phone while driving so pull over to a safe place before making a call or sending a text.
4. Phone charger
It’s useful to have a spare phone charger in your car that’s suitable for plugging into the cigarette lighter. Smartphones are prone to lose their battery life quickly so it’s good to always have a charger at hand.
5. Tow rope
Keep a tow rope in your boot should you need somebody to pull your car to a garage. We do recommend that you have breakdown rescue cover included in your car insurance policy, however.
6. Warning triangle
Reflective warning triangles are a must-have for any safety-conscious driver. Store one in your boot at all times. Stick on your hazard lights first so you’re visible to other road users then place the warning triangle in front of or behind your car to warn others that there’s a hazard ahead.
7. Jump leads
In the event that your car gets a flat battery, having a set of jump leads in your emergency car kit is essential. It’s also worth having a portable power pack to kickstart your battery. Connect one end of the red jump lead to the positive terminal of your car’s flat battery. Then, attach the other end of the red lead to the positive terminal of the good battery of another vehicle. Next, connect one end of the black lead to the negative point of the good battery and connect the other end to an earthing point on the dead battery.
Keep a small torch in your car (preferably a LED one as it uses battery power more efficiently) should you ever need it. Not only is a torch necessary for a breakdown at night, but it’s also useful for when you need to change a tyre in the dark..
9. Fuel/Petrol can
Store a clean, empty can in your car in the event you run out of fuel and need to travel to the nearest petrol station
10. Ice scraper
An ice scraper for your windscreen is a cheap investment for when the frost hits during the winter months. Simply, spray some de-icer then use the scraper to remove excess ice.
There are many de-icing products available that vary in price but having a de-icer in your car will help clear windows quickly on frosty days. If you don’t have a de-icer at hand, it’s quite simple to make one at home using salt and water or hand sanitiser.
12. Warm clothes and a hat
You can lose up to 60% of your body heat through your head. Keep a spare set of warm clothes and a hat in your boot just in case you have a breakdown during the winter. A blanket may also be useful if you end up waiting a while for breakdown assistance to arrive.
13. Bag of salt to grit road if particularly bad
Use rock salt to grid the road in the path of your car wheels to give them traction during wintery weather.
14. Waterproof footwear
Stash away some waterproof footwear (wellies are ideal) if you get caught out on a cold or rainy day.
15. Food and drink
Bottled water and some dry, non-perishable food (nuts, energy bars, crisps) are useful if you ever get stranded.
Learn more about our Breakdown Rescue Cover.
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