Breakdowns can be unexpected and if you’re on your own in the middle of the night, they can be quite scary! Put yourself in the best position and make sure you’re equipped for any situation all year round, with our list of the most important things to keep in your emergency roadside kit.
Jump start cables
A flat battery can strike at any time and can leave you stranded. Jump leads can be used with help from a fellow motorist or roadside assistance to power the battery and get you on the move again. If you’re unsure of how to use jump cables, it’s best to leave it to the professional as it can be dangerous.
Your car breakdown kit should be suited to all weather conditions and you should especially prepare for winter. If you get stuck in the snow or pouring rain, it can be extremely cold, especially in the UK. A blanket can be used to keep warm, to lie on if you need to inspect underneath your car and can help in some medical emergencies.
First aid kit
This is probably the most important thing to keep in your roadside kit and could potentially be lifesaving! A first aid kit should include things like a first aid booklet, dressings, plasters, cleaning wipes, scissors, gloves, tweezers, safety pins, foil blanket, pain relief etc. You can either buy these prepacked or make your own.
Did you know in some countries it’s a legal requirement to have a first aid kit in your car?
Torch and batteries
Most smartphones have a torch function but just in case your phone runs out of battery, it’s best to have a backup source of light. You should keep a decent torch and some spare batteries in your emergency kit. This source of light can be used to check under your bonnet in the dark or also signal to oncoming traffic that you have broken down or need help.
Ice scraper and de-icer
In the winter, you’ll more than likely have both of these anyway as you might have used them to clear the snow from your windscreen and roof in the morning. Winter weather can change quite quickly and it’s really important to know how to drive safely in the winter and be prepared. Not to mention that it’s also a legal requirement to keep your car clear of snow while driving.
Poncho or umbrella
The British weather is so unpredictable and there is nothing worse than breaking down in the pouring rain! Make sure you can stay warm and dry with a poncho, waterproof coat or umbrella.
High visibility triangle or jacket
If you’re stranded on a dark road, a high visibility jacket or triangle can literally be a lifesaver! If you step out of your car onto the road or roadside, always make sure you can be seen by wearing a high visibility jacket. Alternatively, a high visibility triangle can be placed in front of your car facing oncoming traffic to let other motorists know you are there.
In-car or portable phone charger
Most drivers will depend on their mobile phone to call for help or use sat-nav directions if they are stuck or lost. However, if your phone is flat this can put you in a tricky situation. For less than £10 you can buy an in-car charger that plugs into your USB/cigarette lighter port. Alternatively, you could invest in a portable charger or battery pack to make sure your phone is always fully charged.
You should keep a copy of your breakdown policy and insurance details within your car in case you need them. If you have these details on your phone but your phone dies, you may need to use a public phone box instead. Take note of key contact numbers, policy numbers and any other important information you may need.
Notepad and pen
You should keep a notepad and pen in your car at all times. This comes in particularly handy if you are involved in a car accident and need to take details of other driver’s insurance policy or give out your own. You can also use it to jot down any information relating to a crash or accident whilst it’s still fresh in your mind.
A little emergency cash can come in handy at any point! It could be for an unexpected toll charge on your road trip, buy yourself some food or water or use a public telephone to call for help. Also, remember that any cash or bank cards should not be visible as this can attract opportunistic thieves.
Food and water
You should keep a few bottles of water in your car which can be used if you need to rehydrate, clean up or can be used if your car radiator overheats. Food that you store in your car should be ready to eat, not too messy and won’t go off too quickly. Think of foods such as cereal bars, crisps, nuts etc to keep your energy levels up.
Breaking down due to a flat tyre can be costly and time-consuming. Many new cars these days don’t include a spare tyre and instead have an inflator and sealer kit. If you have room for a spare tyre and it won’t weigh your car down, it’s best to have one! Alternatively, you should invest in and learn how to use a tyre inflator kit, which can be used as a quick fix until you can get a new tyre.
Many people rely on their smartphones for Map or a sat-nav device directions. However, if your phone or sat nav runs out of battery and you don’t have a charger, you may find yourself lost. It can be really beneficial to have an old school map of the UK to help you find your way around.