In 2019, the National Safety Council reported a 35% increase in motor vehicle deaths in Maine compared to 2018, which was the highest year over year increase in the United States. Accidents can happen without warning, no matter how much of a seasoned driver you are, but if you’re prepared for the unexpected you can significantly reduce the risk of injury and death in the event of a collision. Whether you’re driving a mile down the road or embarking on a long road trip, it’s important to keep an emergency kit readily available in your vehicle with all the essentials you may need should you break down, experience an accident, or simply get lost. 

To help you keep yourself and your family safe, we’ve compiled the ultimate guide to putting together your own emergency car kit. 

Why You Need An Emergency Car Kit

Up here in Maine, the weather can be unpredictable year-round. From the hot, humid temperatures in the summer to the frigid cold and snowstorms in the winter, we have to be prepared for it all. Because of these frequent weather changes, it’s crucial to be prepared for anything. At any time, your car can break down or you can experience an emergency that results in being stranded on the side of the road for extended periods of time. If you have an emergency kit, you can help protect yourself and your loved ones while you wait for emergency responders to assist you.

What To Include

In addition to emergency essentials, there are a few items you should keep in your car in the event of an accident. When putting together your kit, here’s a breakdown of what you should include:

  • First aid kit — this should have the basics for medical emergencies including but not limited to backup medications, bandages and gauze, splints, sterile pads, and gloves.
  • Portable charger — if your car battery dies, this will help you keep your cellphone working as long as possible to call for help.
  • Bottled water — you should keep several bottles in your car whenever you travel far distances.
  • Blankets — if you break down or experience an accident in cold weather, a blanket will help keep you and your passengers warm to prevent hypothermia.
  • Flashlight — this is an important item to have for emergencies and should be one that you can manually charge should the batteries run out.
  • Non-perishable snacks — some of the best items to keep in your emergency kit for nourishment are granola bars and nuts.
  • Reflectors — emergency hazard triangles to place near the rear of your car to alert oncoming traffic of your disabled vehicle.
  • Map — if you get lost, a map can help guide you to safer roads if you should lose cell phone service.
  • Windshield wiper fluid and ice scrapers — if you get caught in a storm without these items, you won’t have visibility should you find a way to drive to safety.

What to do following an accident:

  • Stop immediately, but do not obstruct traffic — As soon as you’re involved in an accident, stop your car. If possible, try to get out of the way of other vehicles. 
  • Check for any injuries and have someone call the police — Do a mental and physical check to make sure you and any passengers in your car are safe and call 911 if anyone is injured. Whether an accident is considered a minor fender-bender or a major collision, calling the police is important so they can file a report for your insurance claim. 
  • Obtain information — After the incident, exchange names, phone numbers, addresses of other drivers, witnesses, injured people, make, model and license plate numbers of all cars involved.
  • Document the accident —Take pictures of your vehicle from different angles, showing the damage done to both cars. It might also be a good idea to take pictures of the other car’s license plate and the badge number of the responding officer.
  • Notify your insurance company and start the claims process — Notify your insurance professional about the accident as soon as possible, even on the scene of the accident. The sooner your report it, the more details you’ll remember.

Building an emergency kit with this guide in mind may keep you and your passengers safe should you experience an emergency. If you have any related questions, please visit our website to find a local agent near you: