As you travel the dramatic and beautiful Alaskan roadways, you must be prepared to deal with any emergency. This is especially true if you plan to travel through any of our state’s remote areas.
Having a fully stocked emergency vehicle safety kit with you at all times helps to ensure your safety, even if you become stranded or have a car accident. Our Alaska accident lawyers have some suggestions to help you assemble yours.
What should you include in your Alaska vehicle safety kit?
When traveling in Alaska or any remote, rugged area, your emergency kit should include items specific to your vehicle, general tools and equipment, and personal emergency supplies.
Pack your emergency items into sealed, hard-sided totes. This way, even if you have an accident on the road, your supplies will remain protected. Include an inventory list and, if you use any of your supplies, note it on the list. That way, you can quickly and easily restock your kit when you return home.
Tools and Equipment
If you can get your vehicle running and back on the road, you can usually reach emergency services or a place to call for help. Never take shortcuts with your vehicle safety items, especially when traveling in Alaska.
- Jumper cables: Make sure yours are heavy-duty (6-gauge is good, 4-gauge copper is ideal). Avoid jumper cables with soldered connections and choose pressed or crimped connections instead.
- Automotive tool kit: Look for one that includes wrenches, a socket set, tire gauge, spare fuses, and electrical tape.
- Flares and emergency signals: These are invaluable for warning other drivers that you are disabled on the side of the road as well as for attracting attention to your location if you become stranded.
- Ice scraper and brush: Choose a sturdy model that can hold up to the rigors of Alaskan weather.
- Tire sealant and compressor: You may prefer chemical foam sealant in a can or a patch or plug kit.
- Gas can: Plastic is ideal, but ensure that yours is of good quality. (Never keep a full gas can in your car.)
General Emergency Items
For all those non-vehicle-related emergencies that can happen while traveling in Alaska, this list will help ensure your safety in a multitude of scenarios.
- Flashlight: Choose a high-quality flashlight designed for use in the cold. If yours runs on batteries, include one or two sets of new replacement batteries. If you choose a rechargeable flashlight, bring a hand crank charger.
- General tool kit: Make sure yours includes pliers, a screwdriver, an adjustable wrench, and a wire cutter, at a minimum.
- Shovel: A compact or foldable camping shovel is ideal, in the event you need to dig your tires out of the snow.
- Abrasive material: Kitty litter, sand, or carpet strips can provide traction to help you get your vehicle out of the snow or mud.
- Fire extinguisher: Check the charge before you set out and ensure that yours is rated for whatever weather conditions you may experience.
- Good knife or multi-tool: For those unexpected situations, this item is invaluable.
- Tarp and duct tape: A large, brightly colored garbage bag or tarp can provide shelter and a visual source of identification.
We have covered the items necessary to handle a vehicle emergency and any general roadside emergencies. But what about keeping yourself and your passengers safe if you break down while traveling in Alaska?
Add these personal items to your emergency kit and you should stay safe and comfortable until help arrives.
- Food and water: Ideally, you should bring one gallon of water per person in the vehicle. If that is not possible, one or two liters per person should sustain you in an emergency. Include high-protein, non-perishable snacks such as nuts, trail mix, or energy bars. When traveling in Alaska, three to five days’ worth of food and water is advisable.
- Blankets: Wool blankets are a good option for staying warm. Pack at least one blanket per person in the vehicle. (It is a good idea to pack an extra blanket to kneel on in case you need to make repairs outside of the car.)
- Extra clothing: Have a full change of clothing handy for each person in the car. In addition, have a few extra layers handy. That way, you can add or shed based on the weather conditions. Do not forget extra gloves, socks, shoes, and a hat.
- Rain ponchos: All the layers and warm clothing in the world will be ineffective if you get wet. Pack a rain poncho for each person in the car, large enough to wear over your clothing.
- First aid kit: At a minimum, include the basics in your travel first aid kit, including adhesive bandages, antiseptic, gauze pads, antibiotic cream or ointment, and medical tape. If anyone in your party requires prescription medication or medical devices, add enough for three to five days longer than your planned trip.
- Cash: You may need cash to use a phone or buy gas in some remote locations. You likely will not need much but always keep some cash for emergencies while traveling in Alaska. Be sure to include small bills and plenty of change.
- Extra phone battery: Even if you have a car charger, bring an extra phone battery or emergency backup phone. If you become stranded while on the road, your vehicle may not be operable to provide a charge. You may want to bring a hand-crank radio with a light and charger.
How should you prepare in advance for a safe trip?
Before heading out for a road trip, be sure to winterize your vehicle for traveling in Alaska.
When winterizing your vehicle, your mechanic will ensure that everything is in good working order. Specifically, make sure the repair shop checks these important components:
- Tires and wheels
- Heater and window defrosters
- Motor oil and oil filter
- Brakes and brake fluid
- Turn signals and flashers
- Windshield wipers and fluid
- Car jack and spare tire
Be sure to fill your gas tank too, because you may become stranded in a location without a nearby service station. Finally, check your tire pressure and fluid levels often as you travel, to help avoid mechanical breakdowns and rollover accidents.