Memorial Day, the unofficial/official start of summer, is right around the corner. Hopefully you’ll be hitting the road this year for a family vacation, romantic weekend or life-altering cross-country road trip.

Before you put the pedal to the metal, make sure you have a well-equipped summer driving emergency kit ready to go.

Many of us think that winter is the only time we need an emergency kit handy. While we might not need a shovel or ice scraper in the July heat, summer poses its own set of challenges for which we need to prepare.

Here are some items you should include in your summer driving emergency kit.

Cell Phone

Cell phones weren’t something your parents had to worry about when cramming you and your siblings into the station wagon. But, they probably wished they’d had one available when the car ran out of gas and they had to sit on the side of the road for three hours.

A fully charged cell phone is the most important component of a summer driving emergency kit. It is your lifeline to safety and security. You have the peace of mind knowing that, no matter what situation you find yourself in, help is only a call away.

Your phone can also double as a map with a GPS navigation app. There are apps that can route you around traffic delays and some that even work when you have no data connection or cell signal. Again, these keep you safe and get you to your destination in tact and in one piece.


Long trips across hot asphalt roads under the unrelenting summer sun can be torture on your engine. If you’ve not properly maintained fluid levels, it can spell disaster.

Keep a supply of engine coolant handy and monitor your temperature gauge. If it starts creeping up into the red, pull over and pop the hood. Be very careful when adding new coolant, as steam is often released when opening the reservoir.

If you forgot coolant, water can be used as an emergency substitute. Don’t drive too far with only water as coolant and get your vehicle serviced as soon after as possible.

First Aid Kit

A no-brainer to have in the car year round. Band aids, gauze, hand sanitizer, sun block, emergency medicines and a cold compress are all essentials to include.

Beyond these basics, you can also include bottles of water and non-perishable foods, blankets (yes, it still gets cold at night), hats, sunglasses and a flashlight.

first aid

Common Sense

Just because you’re having fun and on vacation, doesn’t mean you can forget all the common sense driving behaviors you normally display.

Don’t talk or text while driving. Beyond the fact that it’s dangerous, it could also be illegal in states you’re driving through.

Turn around and don’t drown. If you’re caught in a downpour and the road looks flooded, don’t drive through it. You don’t know how deep it is or if the area is prone to powerful flash floods.

Don’t drive over downed power lines.

Slow down. Speeding increases the chance of an accident and it costs you more in gas. The beach will still be there when you get there.

Use these tips to have a safe, relaxing time this summer. And watch the video below for even more helpful info on preparing a summer driving emergency kit.