I never really thought about what I had in my car. I’ve always been preoccupied with what I brought for the kids — sippy cups, snacks, diapers, change of clothes, wet wipes, hand sanitizer, stuffed animals, and toys. This year, however, I started thinking about other stuff. The day before my 34th birthday, I was sitting in my car waiting for traffic to move on a busy street by my house. As the traffic in front of me moved, I was slowly inching my way forward, and as the traffic stopped, I would halt my snail’s pace movement.
Unfortunately, the kid behind me wasn’t paying attention and slammed into my car. The next thing I know, my son is crying, I’m slumped over the wheel, and chaos ensues. It turns out that my son and I were not injured and neither was the other driver. Thankfully, a state trooper had witnessed the whole thing and walked over to help. But what if it was night time? What if I was driving on a remote road or highway, far away from the rumblings of city traffic?
Whether you drive in the country or on city streets, it’s important to be prepared for any situation when you’re in your car.
- First aid kit — these are indispensable and and can include basics like aspirin, bandages, compress, scissors, and ice packs. First aid kits vary greatly in what items they contain, as well as their price.
- Blanket — grab any blanket out of your linen closet. While you’re at it, take two. Blankets will help keep your passengers warm if you need to walk or wait for assistance to arrive.
- Flashlight — a necessity should anything happen at night. You can check your surroundings, check your engine, and wave down cars with a flashlight.
- Flares — these items are important so you can warn other drivers that there is an accident or that a car has broken down ahead. Flares also serve as a beacon to let drivers know you may need help.
- Jumper cables — these allow you to start your engine with the help of another car’s batteries.
- Tire inflator and sealant — if you can feel that your tires aren’t driving smoothly over the road, they may need some air. Tire inflators make it convenient for you to pump air into your tire without having to drive everywhere looking for a gas station with a working air pump. If you realize that you have a flat tire, a tire sealant can help you repair it. Sealants go directly to where air pressure is escaping in the tire and forms a dam around the hole.
- Pen and paper — if you get into an accident and law enforcement is not around, a pen and paper come in handy when you need to exchange information with another driver. You can also write help signs and put them in your window if you require help.
- Leatherman tool or something similar — this versatile tool can help you with many situations. Even the most basic Leatherman pocket-sized tool has knife, screwdrivers, pliers, and bottle and can openers.
- Batteries for flashlight — don’t forget to have some extra batteries in the car for your flashlight. It won’t help you to have a flashlight if it’s not working.
- Waterproof poncho — if it’s pouring outside, this poncho will help you stay dry.
- Water — every time you go out in the car to drive anywhere, always have a container of water with you. It will help with any thirst that arises, but you also never know if you’ll have an emergency situation and you’ll need water. I don’t like to leave bottled water in the car because there is a high rate of leaching that may occur. If you can, look for bottles that are PBA-free (if they’re made from plastic) or bottles that are non-leaching, like the ones from Sigg.
There are also many companies on the Internet that sell complete emergency kits for cars that carry many of the items mentioned above and more. Be prepared for the unexpected. You’re not being paranoid, you’re just being smart.