If you drive long distances, through rural areas or in extreme conditions, an emergency kit for your car could save your life.

If your car breaks down or you get stranded on a highway, keeping a roadside emergency kit in your trunk could save your life, as well as the lives of your passengers.

With this checklist as a guide, you can customize the contents of your own roadside emergency kit based on your surroundings, the climate and your driving habits. For instance, do you ever:

  • Drive long distances?
  • Drive in urban or rural areas?
  • Drive late at night?
  • Face severe weather in your area?

In winter especially, you need to be prepared in case you have to spend the night — or longer — in your car. If your clothing gets wet because you've tried to dig yourself out of a snow drift, for example, you'll have to get dry, as well as stay warm.

Emergency kit checklist. Here's what to include in your kit:

  1. Small plastic bottles of water (replace every six months)
  2. Non-perishable, high-energy food, such as energy bars, nuts or peanut butter or dried fruit
  3. A blanket (a survival blanket is best)
  4. Matches and a candle in a deep can for light, warmth and to melt snow
  5. A flashlight with extra batteries or a wind-up flashlight
  6. A whistle to attract attention
  7. First-aid kit (should include a seatbelt cutter)
  8. Small shovel
  9. Ice scraper with brush
  10. Axe or hatchet
  11. Road map and compass
  12. Sand, salt or non-clumping cat litter for traction
  13. Extra antifreeze/windshield washer fluid
  14. Tow rope
  15. Jumper cables
  16. Fire extinguisher
  17. Warning light or road flares
  18. Utility knife
  19. Emergency sign for the dashboard
  20. Tire inflator
  21. Hand sanitizer, paper towels or cleaning cloths
  22. Spare tire
  23. Emergency phone numbers
  24. Extra clothing and footwear

Be prepared. Pack smaller items in a box or carton so you can find them quickly when you need to. As well, you should always travel with a well-charged cellphone and a charger that plugs into your car's cigarette lighter. It may seem like a lot to carry around, but if you find yourself in an emergency situation, you'll be glad to have packed it all.