Whether it’s a jaunt across town or a cross-country road trip, it’s always a good idea to prepare for the unexpected. You never know what problems could pop up during even the simplest trips, so it’s smart to keep certain things in your vehicle at all times. Even if you pay for a roadside assistance service, having some emergency supplies with you could help you get yourself out of a sticky situation. Expect the unexpected every time you hit the road, and always make sure you have these essential items that you should always keep in your car. (See also: Key Tips to Prepare Your Family for a Long Car Trip)
1. First Aid Kit
Buy a prepackaged first aid kit, or assemble your own. Either way, it’s important to have a kit that includes things like bandages, antibiotic ointment, gauze, medical tape, hand sanitizer, over-the-counter pain relievers, and a dose or two of any prescription medications you take. If anyone in your family suffers from life-threatening allergies, keeping an EpiPen in your car’s first aid kit is a must.
Keep a case of bottled water or a few gallons of water in the trunk of your car. If you ever become stranded, it will help you stay hydrated. In a pinch, you can also pour some into your radiator if your car overheats. It’s also great to have to rinse off your hands if you get dirty trying to change a tire or fix something on your car.
Having some food with you is a smart idea, too. Waiting around for a tow truck while your stomach is growling is never a pleasant experience. Of course, being without food is even worse if you find yourself stranded for an extended period of time. Stock up on snacks that aren’t messy and don’t require refrigeration. Things like granola bars, jerky, dried fruit, and cereal are all great options.
The weather can change quickly—even on bright, sunny days. Keeping an umbrella in your car means that you will be able to stay dry once you reach your destination. An umbrella can also be used to provide some shade if you ever find yourself trying to repair your car along the side of the road in the sun.
You might not think you need a flashlight since your cell phone has a light but think again. In an emergency situation, you will want to conserve your phone’s battery as much as possible. Unfortunately, using its built-in flashlight is a great way to run down your battery quickly. Keep a heavy-duty, waterproof flashlight in your car (along with some extra batteries) so you’ll never have to decide between having light and draining your only source of communication’s battery.
6. Extra Clothing
It never hurts to have a spare outfit or two in your car. During the summer, bring lightweight clothing and something like a hooded sweatshirt in case it gets chilly. If you live in an area that gets cold during the winter months, make sure you have blankets, sweatshirts, hats, and gloves.
If you have room, it’s smart to consider storing a thermal sleeping bag in your car, too. This is especially important when traveling during inclement weather. If you are involved in an accident and your vehicle is disabled, it could take some time for help to arrive. Having warm clothing, blankets, and a sleeping bag could quite literally save your life in this situation.
7. Basic Tool Kit
You don’t have to be a master mechanic to make minor vehicle repairs. Having a basic tool kit in the car will allow you to tackle things like low tire pressure, low oil, and other minor issues. Your tool kit should include, at the very minimum, pliers, screwdrivers, a tire gauge, brake fluid, oil, antifreeze, and duct tape. You may also want to consider investing in a can of tire sealant like Fix-a-Flat. Make sure you have a socket set with a socket large enough to fit your lug nuts, too. Even if you aren’t much of a do-it-yourselfer, having some basic tools in your car could make it easier for a good Samaritan to lend a hand.
8. Spare Tire
Learning how to change your own tire is something that should be on every driver’s to-do list. Make sure you have a spare tire (and the tools to change it) with you at all times. Most cars come with a spare, jack, and wrench. Familiarize yourself with changing your tire ahead of time so that, if disaster strikes while you are on the road, you will know what to do.
9. Jumper Cables
If you’ve ever accidentally left your headlights on and come out of a store to discover you have a dead battery, you already know how important it is to keep a set of jumper cables in your car. Learn how to use them, and you’ll be able to get yourself up and running in no time. If the thought of asking a stranger for a jump concerns you, there are also portable jump packs that you can keep charged up and ready to use. Whichever option you prefer, make sure you know how to use it properly for safety reasons.
10. Paper Towels
From cleaning up your kid’s spilled milk to checking your oil, having paper towels in your car can be a lifesaver. Whether you are a parent or traveling solo or with other adults, a roll of paper towels is one of those simple things that can really make a big difference in a wide range of situations.
No matter where you are heading, there is always a chance that something could go wrong. By planning ahead, though, you can be prepared to face challenges head-on. Keep the items listed above in your car at all times, along with any other items that you feel that you or your family members may need in an emergency situation. You never know what’s waiting around the next bend, and it never hurts to be prepared.
About The Author:
Holly Jones serves as the Marketing Director at Marleylilly. Holly oversees all aspects of the marketing department including product promotion, website operation, creative design, editorial, and social content and public outreach. Holly has worked for Marleylilly for over 6 years, and her expertise has helped Marleylilly grow exponentially. In her free time, Holly enjoys cheering on the Clemson Tigers and spending time with her husband and fur child, Rooney!