Car Emergency Kit : Roadside Preparedness
Nobody ever wants to find themselves stranded on the side of the road, but between mechanical problems and car accidents, thousands of drivers find themselves sidelined every year. Unfortunately, being stranded can often be a dangerous situation, such as if you’re a long way from help, if weather conditions are bad, or injuries are involved.
Having the right tools in your car can go a long way in helping you out when something goes wrong. Not only can they help you fix problems (at least temporarily) so you can get help, they can help protect you in a dangerous situation. At a bare minimum, you should always have basic tools like jumper cables, a waterproof flashlight (with extra batteries), tow strap, a spare tire, jack and tire iron, and tire sealer in your trunk. And of course, you’ll want to have the contact information for your insurance company, preferred mechanic, and a car accident lawyer. But what are some of the other things you should keep around?
Reflective Materials and Flares
When your car is broken down, it’s important to remain as visible as possible, especially if you’re not in a well lit area. If you or a roadside service professional will be working on a car, flares and reflective triangles help alert other drivers to your presence so they can leave you space to work. Flares are good to have around, but many experts recommend using reflective triangles instead because they won’t burn out the way flares do.
The U.S. Federal Motor Vehicle guidelines recommend keeping three reflective triangles in your car. One triangle should be placed 10 feet behind the vehicle, another 100 feet behind the vehicle, and the last one 100 feet in front of the vehicle. All reflective triangles should be placed in the center of the lane. For an extra level of protection, you might also want to keep a reflective vest to wear while you’re outside of your vehicle.
Food and Bottled Water
If you get stranded in a more remote area, it may take a while for help to arrive, so make sure you keep a stash of food and water in the car. A few bottles of water and some non-perishable food like protein bars should be able to tide you over until you’re able to get help.
Don’t think that blankets are just for staying warm in cold weather! They’re actually one of the most versatile things you can have in your car. If it’s hot out and you need to be outside working on your vehicle, a blanket can help protect you from hot pavement. Blankets can also act as seat covers if you’re coming in from the rain. You might be surprised how helpful a blanket can be.
First Aid Kit
If you’ve been in a car accident and need to wait for EMTs to arrive, a first aid kit can help you attend to injuries in the meantime. Make sure it’s well stocked with things like band-aids (in many sizes), gauze, scissors, bandage tape, antiseptic solutions, aspirin/ibuprofen, gloves, and a cold pack. If you have special medical issues or children in the family, make sure your car’s first aid kit is able to help handle their needs. For example, if you have young kids, make sure you have some child pain relievers in your car. Or if you have severe allergies, you may also want to keep an extra Epi-Pen on hand.
Last, but certainly not least, it never hurts to keep a roll of duct tape in your car. It’s inexpensive, it doesn’t take up much room, and it can be used to solve a multitude of problems when you’re stuck on the side of the road. It might not offer a long-term solution to your car’s problems, but many stranded motorists have been able to use it as a temporary fix until they’re able to get to a mechanic.