If you’ve ever been driving in unfamiliar territory and your car broke down or started smoking, then you may know how scary the situation can be if you’re unprepared. Even on your familiar morning commute, you should have a bag of basics in case of an emergency. Whether you want to make a repair yourself or you need to wait for roadside assistance, the items below are essential for car safety.
Jumper cables: If you’re driving on the highway and your car dies, you’ll be lucky if you can flag down another driver for a jump. If you store jumper cables in your vehicle, then you won’t necessarily need to wait for a tow truck or another driver who happens to have cables. Your car needs a charge if all you hear is a click instead of the usual hum of your engine.
First-aid kit: Whether you buy a pre-made first-aid kit or you have a bag of supplies that you put together yourself, it makes sense to have a kit handy. At minimum, make sure that your kit includes bandages in various sizes, tweezers, scissors, alcohol pads, pain reliever, adhesive tape, and distilled water.
Blanket: There’s nothing worse than experiencing a breakdown in cold winter weather. If your car dies or the heater breaks, you’ll be glad that you had a warm blanket or towel on hand.
Paper towels: Paper towels aren’t just used for cleaning up spilled food from drive-through restaurants. You can use paper towels to wipe your hands after changing a tire, or use the towels to apply pressure to cuts.
Owner’s manual: If you’re on your way to work when an unfamiliar warning light appears on your dashboard, pull to the side of the road and consult your manual for an explanation. Then, you’ll know whether it’s still safe for you to drive or you need to call for a tow. The owner’s manual will also provide tips on driving in hazardous conditions. If a manual didn’t come with your car, you can usually find the manual online to print and store in your glove box.
Tire sealer and inflator: These items can be quick fixes until you’re able to get to an auto shop. A sealer and inflator are useful last-minute tools if you want to avoid the time it takes to change a tire.
Spare tire: You certainly don’t want to be caught without an extra tire on board, especially if it will take a long time for a tow truck to arrive. Spare tires aren’t meant to be used for an extended amount of time. They’re meant to provide a temporary solution until you can drive to a mechanic. The longer you drive on the spare tire, the more you risk a blowout. You owner’s manual should say how many miles are recommended for the tire. Try not to drive over 45 miles per hour while the spare tire is in use.
Reflective triangle: Whether you’re waiting for a tow truck at 2:00 a.m. or you need to make a repair before driving to a car garage, other drivers should be aware that you’re parked on the side of the road. A reflector can help you to avoid getting hit by other cars.
Flashlight: Keep a flashlight on hand in case you get stranded in an area with no street lamps. Even if your smartphone has a light, it will be useless if your phone battery dies.
Duct tape: Keep loose fenders and bumpers in their places with duct tape. The tape can also be used for taping clear plastic to your windows when the glass breaks. Understand that duct tape only provides a temporary solution.
Preparation can effectively be the difference between life and death on the road. By keeping some simple items in your trunk for car safety, you can save yourself an emergency trip to the hospital.