Universal Health and Safety First Aid Kit

How to Build a Roadside Emergency Kit

Coming from a team with hundreds of staff on our roads each day, we know that being prepared is always an advantage. One of the best ways to look after yourself, and your family, is to build a roadside emergency kit that is truly tailored to your needs.

To Build or To Buy

It’s easy to rely on a store-bought emergency kit and chances and they will generally have the basics, but those kits may not know that you routinely commute down a sidewalk-less road that is prone to power outages. Nor does it know that every weekend, your dog inspires you to explore roads leading to backcountry hikes. And it certainly doesn’t know that your rear right door lock hasn’t worked since you opened the door into a post. But these are important factors that should be considered for a roadside emergency kit that is truly tailored to your needs. So think of the kit as a starting point, and go from there. Think about how old your vehicle is? Is it well-maintained? What are your driving patterns and who rides with you (including kids and four-legged buddies)?

Here’s a starter list to help you out:

Personal Safety Must-Haves

These basics are a great and easy place to start:

  • Canvas bag (to store supplies)
  • Bottled water (about 4 litres)
  • First aid kit (including burn relief)
  • Whistle
  • Blanket
  • Phone charger (or portable battery)
  • Flashlight (wind-up or packed with extra batteries)
  • Energy bars
  • Road map
  • Pen and paper
  • Roadside flares (glow sticks)
  • Car escape tools (seatbelt cutter, window breaker)
  • Car fire extinguisher (ABC type)
  • Duct tape
  • Rags (or paper towels)
  • Tool kit (screwdriver, pliers, vise grip, wrench)
  • Spare tire, pressure gauge, and jack
  • Tire sealant (like Fix-a-Flat)
  • Jumper cables (that suit your vehicle)
  • Spare car fuse
  • No-spill gas can
  • Antifreeze
  • Wiper fluid
  • Motor oil
  • Car Fix Must-Haves

These basics are essential for getting a car up and running, at least long enough to find proper help. In an ideal world, we’d also learn how to use them. But even if we haven’t, the least we can do is carry them so that if a kind passerby offers help, we have the supplies they might need.


Seasonal Must-Haves

If you are likely to experience extreme weather conditions while on the road, it’s best to revisit your roadside emergency kit each season (think hot, cold, dry and wet). Here are a few supplies to consider:

  • Rain gear
  • Umbrella
  • Reflective wear (armbands)
  • Ice scraper
  • Foldable shovel
  • Kitty litter
  • Gloves
  • Boots
  • Hat
  • Sunblock
  • Extra bottled water

Maximum Preparedness Must-Haves

If you don’t typically leave city streets and you have roadside assistance, these supplies may seem superfluous. But, if you’re not likely to revisit your kit before your next road trip, why not build a thorough one the first time?

  • Emergency communications (satellite phone or battery-powered radio)
  • Hand-held GPS unit
  • Solar battery charger
  • Emergency car battery charger
  • Towing strap
  • Sleeping bag
  • Toiletries (including hand sanitizer and toilet paper)
  • Trash bag

Additional Must-Haves

This might be the most important section of all and it deserves your close attention. The most effective roadside emergency kit is one that is tailored to your needs. Remember to consider the age and condition of your vehicle, your driving patterns, your frequent passengers, and the climate in which you live.

Does your car window frequently get stuck? Does your car key ever fail? Are there medications or medical equipment you rely on daily? Do you frequently have a baby, senior, or animal in the car? Are bear sightings common within the area you commute? Based on your responses you may want to consider:

  • Extra car key
  • Taillight kit
  • Window screen
  • Medication
  • EpiPen
  • Diapers
  • Baby food
  • Dog food and water bowl
  • LED collar and leash
  • Bear spray
  • Bug spray
  • …and so on.

The best place to start is to set aside the time to build your kit. Make your own must-haves list and start checking it off. Most items are available both online and in-store, and some things you already have at home.

If you see a Universal Flagging or GOtraffic truck on the road, count on them to be prepared. At the Universal Group, safety always comes first and our in-house Health and Safety division always keeps our team safe in the office and on the road.