My kids are at an age where they, and their friends, are starting to drive, buying cars, driving around town and adventures beyond. Because I wanted to be sure they were prepared for anything they might encounter, I took stock of what I kept in my own car for emergencies and considered what might be missing a.k.a. the other things I wanted them to have so they were prepared.
What resulted is a pretty essential list of things everyone should keep in their cars to be sure they are prepared when they are on the road.
First aid and survival
Of course, a first aid kit is essential. Things like bandages and aspirin are essential of course and you’ll be surprised by how often you may need something out of the kit. Whether you’re in the car or you’ve gone somewhere by car, this is a resource you will rely on over and over. For the person with allergies, asthma, diabetes or other medical conditions, it is important they have access to what they need. Think about who is driving and who passengers are and be sure they will have whatever ‘just in case’ they may need.
Our Canadian climate dictates that drivers should also carry a blanket or survival blanket and extra clothes depending on the season. In winter, there are always a pair of warm boots, gloves and a warm coat in the trunk. The rest of the year, that turns to rain gear. In the case of a breakdown, having to travel for help, or sit and wait for help, you want to be sure you can be warm and dry.
I know none of us ever expects to be stuck for very long but there have been many stories of people trapped for hours in heavy snow storms as they waited for roads to be cleared or other vehicles to be removed before help could reach them. Some water and easy snacks like packaged cookies, dried fruit or granola bars can go a long way towards keeping everyone comfortable. Keep in mind this isn’t a throw in the car and forget about kind of thing. Consuming something that’s been in the car for three years isn’t going to do anyone any good.
Other things like flares – so help can find you and so that others know you’re there; a car phone charger – to be sure you can call for help if you need it; an extra emergency phone; a flashlight; warmer candle – are all great ideas.
Car related essentials
At a basic, you should always have your car’s manual in the vehicle so you can identify what emergency and warning lights mean and a basic tool kit – even if you don’t know how to fix what’s under the hood, someone else might be able to help if you have the proper tools at hand. An extra bottle of washer fluid is also essential.
A seat belt cutter and window breaker are important in case of an accident and inexpensive to buy so you can even pick up more than one. Just be sure they are located in an accessible place in the car. Having them packed in the trunk or tucked away in the glove box will help no one if there isn’t someone who can reach them.
Of course, you should ensure you know what your car is equipped with when it comes to flats. If it’s a spare, ensure that it is inflated and ready to use. If there is something else, be sure you know what it is, how to access it and how to use it. Tire inflator and sealer is another handy trick that can at least get you to the nearest garage for a proper fix safely.
Have jumper cables and again, know how they work. And remember, duct tape fixes all. Think I’m kidding? The day I came out of the grocery store to find my sideview mirror hanging (I can only assume someone walking by slipped on the ice and grabbed it for support), I was plenty glad I had duct tape to make a temporary repair.
Equipping yourself, and the other drivers in your house, with the essentials to deal with any small emergencies can prevent them from turning into something much bigger.