Be Prepared For Roadside Emergencies

Be prepared for the unexpected.  Properly maintaining your vehicle can help prevent breakdowns, while having a roadside emergency kit in your vehicle can help you get back on the road – at least until you can get your car serviced – or help keep you safe while waiting for help.    

Depending where you live, winter driving can mean snow, sleet, ice, slower traffic and wet and hazardous roadways.  And in the summer, extreme heat can take its toll on your vehicle, as well as the roadways.     

Be ready for the challenges extreme weather brings year-round by ensuring your vehicle is in good working condition through regular maintenance.   A scheduled check-up should include:   

  • Checking the ignition, brakes, wiring, hoses and belts
  • Changing and adjusting the spark plugs
  • Checking the air, fuel and emission filters, and the PCV valve
  • Checking the battery
  • Inspecting the distributor
  • Checking the antifreeze level
  • Inspecting the tires for air pressure, sidewall wear and tread depth

In addition, if you live in an area where ice and snow are common, make sure you’ve switched to winter tires before winter arrives. 

Have a cell phone handy, so you can call for help when you need it. Your smart phone’s GPS can also help locate you if you’re lost. 

Pre-packed emergency kits are helpful for building a kit, but they may not have everything you need.  Make sure your roadside emergency kit includes: 

  • Basic repair tools
  • Cell phone charger
  • Change of clothes
  • Drinking water
  • Duct tape
  • Emergency Road Service (or other roadside assistance membership) contact information
  • Exterior windshield cleaner
  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight
  • Flares
  • Hazard triangles
  • Jack and mat for tire changes
  • Jumper cables
  • Nonperishable food
  • Paper towels
  • Tow rope
  • Work gloves

Add for winter emergencies

  • Blanket
  • Heavy woolen mittens, socks, stocking cap and blankets
  • Non-perishable, high energy foods like unsalted nuts, dried fruits and hard candy 
  • Sand and a small shovel
  • Scissors and string/cord
  • Windshield scraper and snow brush
  • Wooden stick matches in a waterproof container

If you’re forced to stop in an emergency, pull your vehicle off the road, if possible.  Make your vehicle more visible to oncoming traffic by turning on hazard lights and using flares and hazard triangles.  Stay inside your vehicle until help comes. 

In addition, if you become stranded in extreme winter conditions, check to make sure the car’s exhaust is not blocked and run the engine and heater for about 10 minutes every hour, depending on the amount of gas you have in the tank.  Keep at least one window open to allow for ventilation and a way to get out, as heavy snow and ice can seal a vehicle shut.  


WBAI-0019 (10/14)

© 2015 Horace Mann Educators Corporation

CUSTOMER SERVICE Call 800-999-1030

  • Auto and Property
    M – F, 7 a.m. - 8 p.m. Central time.
  • Life, Annuity and Group
    M – F, 7 a.m. - 7 p.m. Central time.