With summer around the corner, you’re probably starting to plan your great family adventure. If you intend to load up the car and drive, you’ll remember to get gas, pack snacks and of course, pack your luggage. But being on the road for a long trip, or even a short one, requires some extra planning in the safety department, too. Remembering the car seats isn’t enough. If something terrible were to happen and you got stuck in your car for hours or days, would you be prepared?

Of course, being a member of an automobile club is great protection, as is having On Star or a GPS in your car. But you can never be too safe, especially when traveling with small children.

By all accounts, you should always keep an emergency roadside kit in your car. You simply never know when you might need it.

According to the American Red Cross, you should have the following basic items in your emergency kit:

  • First aid kit and manual
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Puncture Kit to repair tires
  • Gas Funnels
  • Matches
  • Bungee Cords
  • Gloves
  • 45 minute emergency wax flare
  • Glow stick
  • Electrical tape
  • Emergency survival blanket
  • Rain poncho
  • Orange safety vest
  • SOS sign for the windshield

If you hate going to the hardware store, and the idea of putting all these items together yourself seems daunting, log on to the Red Cross web site (www.redcross.org) and purchase their ready made kit with all the above listed items. It sells for $37.00. Their kit doesn’t include water, but they recommend that everyone have plenty of water in their car in case of an emergency. According to Tracey Kiest of the Arizona chapter of the American Red Cross, “It’s also a good idea to pack non-perishable food in case you get lost. If there are infants or children traveling, pack emergency supplies for them such as diapers and formula.”

In addition to the basic kit sold by the Red Cross, many online stores sell ready-made kits you can pop in your trunk.

At www.batterysavers.com, you can purchase a 92 piece emergency kit that they claim is the most complete auto kit on the market for $59.95.

A small, sleek kit can be found at www.lifesecure.com, called the RIDE ALONG AUTO Emergency Life Support Kit. It sells for $34.95. This kit even has enough water and food to support one person for up three days. Also available at Life Secure are individual items to supplement your kit.

Some supplemental items you may want to consider when making your kit include:

  • Two quarts of oil
  • Gallon of antifreeze
  • Extra fuses
  • Flat head screwdrivers
  • Phillips head screwdrivers
  • Pliers
  • Vise Grips
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Tire pressure gauge
  • Rags
  • Roll of paper towels
  • Roll of duct tape
  • Spray bottle with washer fluid
  • Pocketknife
  • Pen and paper
  • and heavy-duty nylon bag to carry it all in.

Remember to learn the basics on how to use these items before you find yourself stuck in a difficult situation. “You should also inventory your road hazard kit for weather damage and shelf life and replace items as necessary,” says Kiest.

Though it won’t help you move any faster through a traffic jam, having the right tools at your disposal in case of a real emergency can give you the peace of mind you need while tackling the roads this summer.