Whatever the weather, wherever you drive, an emergency kit is a good thing to carry. But emergency kits aren’t one size fits all. It’s important to take time to customize your emergency kit to how long you’re away from home, where you’re driving, the weather and personal preference. Hot packs and long johns are vital in North Dakota in January; not so much in New Mexico in August. Raisins are great emergency food unless you hate raisins.

Emergencies for truckers can mean a wide range of issues, not limited to just truck breakdowns or weather. And they can be hard to predict and manage. But when you’re prepared for difficult situations, no matter what you face, from storms to breakdowns to traffic, everything is a bit easier to manage.

The first factor when packing your emergency kit is where you’re going and how long you’ll be gone. The climate and conditions of your route change what you need, and the trip length changes how much you’ll need. Consider the weather you’ll be passing through as you drive. Cold-weather gear may not be necessary in Southern California, but if you’re making your way up to Chicago in the winter, it certainly will.

For Short Runs

For jobs where you get to go home at the end of the day or will be back in a few days, you don’t need much in terms of emergency supplies, but the more you have the better off you are in case of an emergency. Consider some of the following items:

  • A change of clothes
  • First aid kit
  • Non-perishable food like granola, nuts, dried fruit or energy bars
  • One gallon of water per day you’ll be gone, more if you’ll be in hotter temperatures
  • Cell phone with charger
  • Pepper spray
  • Cold weather gear: hat, gloves, scarf
  • Hat and sunglasses
  • Baby wipes or wet wipes
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Vice-grip pliers
  • Mallet or hammer
  • Map
  • Prescription medications
  • Candles and metal tin
  • Matches

For Longer Runs

For jobs when you’re gone longer, you’ll need a few more supplies to get you through emergencies. These supplies should all be in addition to items from the previous list.

  • Can opener
  • Extra food for longer delays like canned soup
  • Cooking supplies – utensils, hot plate or rice cooker, foil, plate or bowl
  • Soap (for dishes and body)
  • Dish towels
  • Hand towel and shower towel
  • Sleeping bag
  • Foldable shovel

And if you bring any animal driving companions, bring extra supplies for them too! Always pack more food than you think you’ll need. In extremely cold conditions, jackets, hats and shoes may become necessary for your pet, even if they don’t want anything. 

No matter where you’re going or how long you’ll be gone, an emergency kit is a must have. But space in a truck is always at a premium, so make sure that you’re also making the most of every item. After all, you can’t predict snow storms or massive traffic jams. An emergency kit can save your life on the road.