We get into our cars every single day. They carry us to and from home, work, school and recreation — and with a little bit of preparation, they can even save your life. What should you include in your automotive emergency kit? Here is a list of 10 things you should always keep in your car.
1. A Phone Charger
Your phone is one of the most useful tools in your arsenal. You can call for help in an emergency, navigate your way to your destination and even find somewhere to stop along the way. Of course, you can only do all of these things if your phone is charged. Keep a mobile battery and a wall charger in your car at all times. As a bonus, you can use the battery to charge your phone if the power goes out at home, too!
2. A Spare Tire
A single flat tire is enough to throw a wrench into anyone’s day. Instead of spending the money and waiting for AAA or a tow truck, keep a spare tire in good condition in your vehicle. When you check your tires once a week for tread and pressure, check your spare as well. Don’t end up like this writer who ignored their spare and when they needed it, it was flat!
3. Jumper Cables
Dead batteries can happen at any time. Maybe your battery is old and at the end of its life, or maybe you forgot to turn off the headlights. Whatever the case, you’ll need a jump. Now, you can cross your fingers and hope that a good Samaritan has a pair of jumper cables in their car, but if you want to expedite the process, keep your own cables in the trunk. Every car has a battery, but not every car has jumper cables.
4. Your Owner’s Manual
You may only look at your owner’s manual when one of your dash warning lights comes on, but that little book actually provides a wealth of information. It’s also got troubleshooting suggestions if something goes wrong, fuse maps if one of your lights or devices stops working, and a maintenance schedule to help you keep your vehicle running smoothly. If you bought your car used and it didn’t come with a manual, we suggest hunting one down.
5. A Tire Repair Kit
Even if you have a spare tire, it doesn’t help if you run over a bunch of debris and two or more tires go flat. Keeping a tire repair kit in your car can save you a lot of hassle in all kinds of situations.
You should have tire plugs and patches, sealant like Slime or Fix A Flat, and an air pump that you can plug into your car’s cigarette lighter to refill your tires. It’s a bit more work than just swapping in your spare, but it makes things easier in the long run.
6. A Basic Tool Kit
Whether you need to swap out a battery, change a tire or (speaking from experience) remove a damaged skid plate on the side of the highway after hitting a blown-out tire, you’ll need at least basic tools. Keep a small kit with pliers, sockets and screwdrivers in your trunk or glove compartment so you always have it on hand if you happen to need it.
7. A First Aid Kit
You should always have a first aid kit with you, no matter where you are. You never know when you’re going to need it, and it’s definitely one of those things that it’s better to have and not need. You can buy pre-made first aid kits or build your own — the choice is yours.
8. A Flashlight
If you get stranded in the dark, using your phone as a flashlight will only end up burning through your battery. Keep a bright flashlight in your trunk as well as extra batteries so you’ve got plenty of light to figure out what your next steps are.
9. A Roll of Duct Tape
Honestly, you really shouldn’t go anywhere without a roll of duct tape. You can use it as a bandage, as a rope, as a belt and even for automotive repairs, in a pinch. It’s probably the most useful thing in the universe and you should always keep a roll of it in your car.
10. A Basic Emergency Kit
Finally, pack an emergency kit and keep it in your trunk. Include everything that you might need if you have to evacuate at a moment’s notice or if you get stranded in the woods and need to survive until rescue arrives. That includes food, water, survival supplies, a change of clothes, blankets and anything else you think might be necessary to keep you alive.
Stay Safe out There
Whether you’re just driving to and from work or you’re exploring all the backroads the country has to offer, there are plenty of things you should always have on hand. Be prepared for anything and you’ll never be caught off-guard.