Anyone who takes a road trip of any distance or duration should be prepared for potential roadside emergencies. But, RVers who tend to travel roads unknown with some frequency while carrying heavy loads in their home-on-wheels need to be well prepared for unexpected events that can occur based on weather, tire blow-outs, and other breakdowns. And they can (and often do!) happen in the most remote areas. This is why having an RV roadside emergency kit is so important.
In today’s post, I’m giving you 23 ideas of things to carry in your RV roadside emergency kit.
What do I mean by RV Roadside Emergency Kit?
To me, an RV roadside emergency kit contains items that one might find a use for in the event of a roadside emergency. The emergency could be anything that leaves you stranded on the side of the road (or anywhere, really) such as a tire blow-out, a mechanical breakdown, a weather event, mudslide, fire, illness—anything that impedes your ability to continue traveling down the road to your destination.
What are some of the most important things to have in an RV Roadside Emergency Kit?
I’ll preface my list of 23 items by saying that this list is likely to contain numerous items that you already carry in your RV when you travel. That’s great—if you’ve already have the item onboard, check it off your list! You’ll have it when you need it.
However, if you don’t, give some serious thought to whether or not you feel the item belongs in your RV roadside emergency kit.
This list doesn’t cover all potential situations but it’s a list of 23 items that I feel are important to have for emergencies.
1. Road reflectors
A good set of road reflectors is an inexpensive but very important piece of any RV roadside emergency kit. Reflectors are designed to make sure you’re seen along the side of the road before someone is on top of you.
Set your road reflectors a distance ahead of and behind your rig to give oncoming traffic advance warning of your presence. You’re already having a bad day—don’t make it worse!
A basic tool kit is important for every RVer to carry. Your tool kit is likely to already contain the tools that you find most useful and like the rest of us, you probably add to that tool kit from time to time as you complete new repairs and projects. If you’ve been looking to compile your tool kit, you’ll find some ideas in my post, The RV Tool Kit Every RVer Needs
However, the bare minimum that should be in every RV roadside emergency kit (and every vehicle, for that matter) is a good, durable multi-tool with some basic tools.
3. First-aid kit
You can create your own first-aid kit or buy a pre-made kit but having a first-aid kit on board your RV is an absolute MUST.
Contents of a first-aid kit should include adhesive tape, antibiotic ointment, antiseptic solution or towelettes, bandages, calamine lotion, cotton balls and cotton-tipped swabs, gauze pads and roller gauze in assorted sizes, first aid manual, petroleum jelly or other lubricant, safety pins in assorted sizes, scissors and tweezers, and sterile eyewash.
Familiarize yourself with the items in the first aid kit and know how to properly use them. Check your first-aid kits regularly, at least every three months, to replace supplies that have expired.
The Mayo Clinic is an excellent source for first aid information to help you during a medical emergency.
If you travel with pets, pet first aid manuals are also available.
4. Work gloves
A strong pair of work gloves is an important piece of any RV roadside emergency kit to help protect your hands during any emergency mechanical work or tire changing, etc. The last thing anyone needs when they’re stranded roadside is an injury that makes the emergency even more urgent!
A quality pair of work gloves with a good grip will serve you in an endless array of circumstances.
5. Spare fuses
A variety of extra fuses that can replace any that have burned out in your RV is an important part of an RV roadside emergency kit.
Depending on which fuse is blown, you could be disabled in some fashion. Being able to replace a blown fuse right there on the spot can be the difference between a very minor headache and a migraine.
6. Air compressor
An air compressor that you can use wherever you are is a fantastic item for any roadside emergency kit.
Also in the tire emergency category, a couple of cans of Slime can repair a punctured tire long enough to get you to a service station where you can deal with the issue.
There are also tire repair kits available but the Slime is more user-friendly and gets the job done.
I don’t recommend using Slime every time your tire goes flat but if you don’t have a roadside assistance plan or you’re so far out in the boonies that they won’t come to help you, the Slime will get you rolling to someplace you can get a more permanent fix.
8. Flashlights and headlamps
Chances are good that you’ve already got some good quality flashlights and headlamps onboard the rig but they’re extremely important so we’re including them on this list.
A good flashlight is handy if you’re stranded on a dark roadside, if you need to walk any distance in the dark, and for any work you may try to do on the rig yourself in the dark or in other poor lighting conditions.
Headlamps are fantastic flashlights that leave your hands free for working or carrying items. You’d be amazed at the number of times you’ll pull out a good headlamp when doing a repair or a DIY project.
So…flashlights…whether they’re in your hands or on your head—these are important items for your RV roadside emergency kit!
9. Portable power bank
Having a portable power bank that’s always charged and ready to go is an important asset to any roadside emergency kit.
A fully charged portable battery bank ensures that if your phone runs out of juice, you’ve got a handy way to power it whether you’re walking a distance for help or you have no power available for some other reason.
It’s also important to note that many smartphones/cell phones lose power in the cold. So, if you’re walking in cold weather and are trying to get help using your phone, it can go dead much faster than you’d expect and it won’t reboot until it warms up. This won’t happen if it’s connected to a portable power bank.
10. Jumper cables
No one likes having to jump-start a battery but the day will probably come when you have to. Aside from having the best RV battery under your hood, make sure that you have a set of decent jumper cables. You don’t want to be that person who asks someone for a jump and if they have jumper cables.
Don’t be caught without this inexpensive essential.
11. Jump start
You may carry jumper cables in your rig’s basement but a battery jump-start box can get you out of trouble even if you’re in some very tight quarters or if there’s no one around with a vehicle capable of giving you a jump.
These compact boxes usually have an integrated flashlight so you can see to connect it properly and they do an amazing job of jumping even the biggest rigs. They’re also great for charging devices and usually have a USB port or two handy for just this purpose.
12. Reflective vest
If you have to walk in the dark or you’re broken down in traffic and you need to alert oncoming vehicles (by laying out your reflective triangles noted above!) or if you need to direct traffic around an accident, you’ll want to have a reflective vest.
A package of two for two travelers is a great idea so that you’re both equipped to be seen, day or night.
13. Fire extinguishers
This one needs no explanation. If you don’t already have at least one fire extinguisher in your RV, get one TODAY. Depending on the size of your rig, you may want to keep one accessible at the front and a second at the rear or one inside the rig and one in a bay, accessible from the outside.
Fire extinguishers come in various sizes, including small cans without hoses. No matter what, you need to carry a good quality fire extinguisher in your rig because you never know when you’ll need to extinguish a blaze quickly whether in your galley kitchen or during a roadside emergency.
14. Safety hammer
Safety hammers allow us to break a window in the event of certain emergency situations. You could use the hammer to break out a window of your own rig in an emergency or to get to someone else who’s been involved in an accident you encounter in your travels.
This safety/emergency hammer has an integrated knife for cutting a seat belt off of someone who needs extrication from the belt to escape the vehicle.
15. Air horn
Air horns are often overlooked as an emergency kit item but they can be extremely helpful in an emergency situation. Not only would an air horn allow you to call attention to yourself if you need help, but if you’ve had an accident that has left your rig precariously positioned in the roadway and you need to alert oncoming traffic, an air horn can be just the item you need while waiting for emergency services to arrive.
16. Electrical tape
There are many uses for electrical tape. But, one example is your rig breaking down on the side of the road, leaving you stranded. You pop the hood and look around, and find that a rodent has apparently set up shop in your engine compartment at some point and has chewed on some wires that are deliciously encased. You use your electrical tape to wrap a section of wire (if you’re lucky), start up the rig, and drive it to the nearest service station.
There are a lot of reasons why electrical tape belongs in your RV roadside emergency kit. Toss some in there today.
17. Collapsible shovel
If your rig gets stuck in sand, mud, or snow, having a small shovel on board can be very helpful.
The ability to dig your self out of a sticky situation is important. A small shovel—especially one that’s collapsible for compact storage—is a great thing to have on hand. (And if you happen to have something like kitty litter on board, don’t be afraid to use that for traction!)
If you’ve got severe allergies to ANYTHING (nuts, bees, etc.), you should be carrying a prescription epinephrine pen (or Epipen) in your emergency kit.
Even if you don’t have severe allergies, EVERY emergency kit should contain Benadryl or the generic form of diphenhydramine in case anyone on board the RV has an allergic reaction to something.
This antihistamine is inexpensive and everyone should have some on hand because severe allergic reactions can’t wait for a trip to a store (if you can find one open) and if the reaction occurs when your RV is broken down on the side of the road, you’ll have no way to obtain the simple drug that could be the difference between life and death. Always carry antihistamine.
19. Emergency food and water
All roadside emergency kits should contain extra food and water—just in case. You can keep a few gallons of emergency water onboard your RV (accessible from the outside if possible) and you should also have some non-perishable foods on hand.
Specific foods are a matter of personal preference but they should be nutrient-dense and able to be stored in the vehicle or RV even in heat/cold. Store them in a solid container that isn’t accessible to rodents!
Many people keep high-protein bars, organic jerky, or a certain amount of freeze-dried foods onboard at all times.
20. Wheel chocks
If you get stuck or become involved in an accident, your RV may be perilously positioned on an incline or a decline. In an emergency, wheel chocks can be an important part of your kit.
You most likely have some wheel chocks for the purpose of leveling your RV, but if you don’t, a set of these are highly advisable and could be very useful in an emergency.
21. Ice scraper/snow brush
“But we don’t travel where it’s icy or snowy.” We’ve heard that one before! An RV emergency kit means being prepared and a combination snow brush and ice scraper is a good thing to have.
22. Tire pressure gauge
Checking tire pressures before a trip is one of my RV checklist items. Not all tire pressure gauges are equal. If you have large RV tires, your tire pressure could be well over 100 psi.
If you have the room, consider buying an air compressor. These can be invaluable if you have tires with high PSI ratings that most gas station pumps won’t work on and for those who like to take their campers off-the-beaten path, the ability to air down and then air your tires backup can be a game changer.
23. Duct tape
Duct tape, gorilla tape, Rhino tape, gaff tape…it doesn’t matter. Just have a strong tape onboard!
I’ve seen Duct tape used to fix just about everything. I also carry Rhino tape.
Learn from yesterday, live for today, look to tomorrow, rest this afternoon.
—Charlie Brown, from Peanuts