Life is unpredictable. It’s likely that at some point every one of us will experience a break down, a flat tyre, or run of out of petrol. Unfortunately preparing for these situations is often an afterthought.
Check our list of essential items to keep in your car all year round to get you back on the road as quickly as possible or to keep you safe until help arrives.
1. Fuel can
It is extremely handy to have a fuel can in the car so that you can fill up if you find yourself with an empty tank.
Make sure it’s kept empty as keeping fuel in your car can add to the risk of a fire in the event of an accident.
2. First aid kit
It’s a good idea to keep a basic first aid kit in your boot should you ever need to treat a minor injury.
3. Reflective triangle
A reflective triangle is useful to let other road users know that you have broken down. This is especially important when it is dark and there is minimal street lighting to make road users aware that there is a hazard and indicates that they should slow down.
Make sure you place it on the same side of the road as your car and at least 45 metres behind where you have broken down. Never use a reflective triangle on the motorway.
Pack a torch in your emergency break down kit – it will be a lot easier to inspect the car engine, change a tyre, or look under the bonnet if you can see what you are doing. You can get magnetic flashlights which stick to your car to ensure both hands are free even if you’re on your own!
It is worthwhile to pack an extra set of batteries to be on the safe side.
5. Jump leads
Flat batteries are all too common – you never know when you, or another motorist, may need a set of jump leads.
It is best to familiarise yourself with the cables and your engine before you need to use them. If you are unsure what to do, it is best to wait for a professional.
6. Spare tyre & jack
This sounds like an obvious one, but too many of us use our spare tyre and then forget to replace it. Knowing how to change the tyre yourself is a good life skill to hold too!
7. Portable phone charger
While we all love our sparkly smartphones, its common knowledge that their battery life isn’t great. In some situations, if your phone battery were to die, you could find it very difficult to make contact with help.
Avoid being caught in an emergency situation with no means of communication by keeping a portable phone charger in your car – just make sure you charge it first!
8. Insurance details
If you breakdown, you will need to make contact with the breakdown service. It’s a good idea to keep your policy documents in your car so you have the phone numbers and your policy reference when you need them.
9. Food and water
In Northern Ireland, it is highly unlikely that you will be stranded roadside for more than a few hours, but it is a good idea to keep some non-perishable food and water in your car. Food items include cereal bars, crisps, and energy bars. Water should be kept too in order to stay hydrated. This can also be used to top up your radiator or windscreen fluids!
10. Emergency cash
If you are going on a long journey, it is a good idea to stash some cash for an emergency situation. This should just be enough to cover your basic needs – food, water, fuel and alternative transportation.
11. Umbrella or waterproof jacket
Be it spring, summer, autumn or winter, it always rains in Northern Ireland. It won’t be fun to stand outside your car, attempt repairs or walk to a garage, but it will be a bit more bearable if you have cover from heavy rain.
12. Hi-vis clothing
If you break down at night and are standing by the roadside, a hi-vis jacket will help other road users to see you and avoid a bad situation becoming even worse. Further, if you have rang for roadside assistance, the hi-vis clothing will aid their ability to spot you.
A bottle of de-icer can be used to de-ice your windows, car locks and handles. You can also use this if you find that the road or your driveway is too icy to walk or drive over.
If you’re involved in an accident, or subject to a dead battery, and find you need to stand outside for a period of time – you and your passengers will be grateful for the warmth of a blanket.
15. Warm clothing
As we all know, Northern Ireland is notorious for having poor weather conditions, regardless of the season. It is best to be prepared for a breakdown in wet or cold weather – pack a jacket or a lightweight waterproof.
*Terms, limits and exclusions apply.