March 6th, 2020 by Fix Auto USA
Whether the culprit is a flat tire, a dead battery, inclement weather, or a collision, your car is bound to break down at some point. Even if you pay for roadside assistance service, having the right emergency items in your trunk will enable you to fix the problem yourself or ensure you are properly prepared and protected while you wait for help to arrive.
If you’re like most drivers, you may have one car emergency tool, such as a jack. But, according to a survey by State Farm and KRC Research, only 5 percent of drivers have a full set of emergency supplies in their car when they need them. What to keep in your vehicle for emergency –that is the question! Here are 15 must-have things to have in your car in case of emergency.
1. First aid kit
If you’re in a small accident or get injured on the road, a first-aid kit can make a big difference. But what should it contain – that is the question. For starters, bandages, gauze, adhesive tape, antiseptic spray, antibiotic ointment, over-the-counter pain medicine, and cotton swabs. Adding a thermometer to the kit would be a good idea, as well as tweezers and scissors.
Nighttime emergencies can be especially anxiety-inducing, especially if you have to open up the hood. Invest in a heavy-duty flashlight that is waterproof, and make sure you have extra batteries on hand.
Even better, consider getting a hand-crank flashlight that doesn’t require batteries. Another option is a lantern or headlamp, which will free up a hand and afford you 360 degrees of light.
3. Warm blanket and clothes
When you consider what to keep in your car for emergency, don’t forget warm clothing. If you’re in an accident or your car breaks down in winter or in the mountains, having a warm blanket, gloves, socks, and sweatshirts on hand can help you and your passengers survive cold temperatures.
Imagine a scenario where a passenger or the driver is in shock after a collision. A blanket, in particular, can literally be a lifesaver and help provide not only warmth, but also a sense of comfort to anyone under duress.
4. Tool kit
A must-have item for your trunk is a basic car emergency tool kit, which can save the day if your car breaks down and you’re unable to get immediate help. To replace a flat tire, you’ll need a jack and a lug wrench, and a screwdriver to remove the hubcaps. Your tool kit should also have duct tape, a can of WD-40, antifreeze, pliers, and a pocket knife.
5. Tire gauge
One thing you want to avoid at all costs is an under-inflated tire. A tire gauge is a must-have tool that’s used to assess tire pressure; it will help you maintain your existing tires in safe, working condition.
6. Spare tire
Back in the day, most new cars came equipped with a spare tire, but according to Consumer Reports, 1/3 of today’s new cars are missing one. Check your vehicle to ensure you have a replacement tire and don’t forget to use your tire gauge to check the pressure of your spare tire, so it’s safe and ready to use when you need it.
A nice gizmo to get is a canned tire inflator, which will quickly seal a flat tire and inflate it. Note that it provides only a temporary solution to your problem, affording you enough time to drive at low speed to a shop to get your tire repaired.
7. Emergency flares, beacons, and triangles
If your car becomes stranded, whether on a rural road or by a busy intersection, drivers may have difficulty spotting you. Letting off flares and placing battery-powered beacons around your car can give unsuspecting drivers advance warning, so they use appropriate caution and don’t compromise your safety.
Also, consider investing in reflective triangles. In case of emergency, place them on the side of the road, about 50 feet away from your car, where they can be easily seen. Keep at least three warning triangles in your vehicle.
8. Jumper cables
If your car battery dies – when, not if – jumper cables with heavy-duty clamps can get you out of a bind, assuming you can find another driver willing to assist you. Simply attach your cables to the positive and negative battery terminals of the other person’s vehicle and follow the instructions.
9. Snacks and water
You might not think of snacks as a car emergency tool, but having them on hand can do wonders for the spirit, making an unpleasant situation more tolerable. If you’re stranded in a remote area, snacks can give you the fuel you need to survive. Keep food that doesn’t require refrigeration, like granola bars, dried fruit, crackers, and nuts and seeds.
10. Paper Towels
It might not be fancy or high tech, but a roll of paper towels should definitely be on your list of emergency items for car. Imagine opening your hood to assess the problem and not having anything to clean the oil off your hands or to dry up a spill.
In addition to paper towels, work gloves will shield your hands if you have to do some work under the hood. Also, investing in a pair of disposable gloves is a good idea in the event you need to assist an injured passenger.
12. Portable fire extinguisher
In the case of a severe collision, cars are prone to catch on fire. This is why a fire extinguisher should be a fundamental car emergency tool for all drivers.
Fire extinguishers receive a rating from the National Fire Protection Association based on the types of fires they can put out. Class A fires involve substances like wood and paper and don’t typically occur in cars. Class B extinguishers are intended for fires caused by liquids like gasoline, diesel fuel, and kerosene. Class C extinguishers are for fires stemming from electrical equipment and panel boxes.
The best place to store your fire extinguisher is to have it mounted on the floor, just in front of the front passenger seat.
13. Tow rope
If you’re going to be driving on rural roads, or in the mountains or desert, your vehicle could end up getting stuck, even with a four-wheel drive. Make sure to add heavy-duty tow rope to your list of “emergency items for car.” It could save the day!
14. Portable car charger
If you’re stranded, who are you going to call? No one, if your cell phone has no juice left. That is why a portable phone charger is a vital car emergency tool. A unit that has at least 20,000 milliamp-hours (mAh) and multiple USB ports will enable you to charge not only your cell phone but also allow the other passengers to pass the time on their laptops and cell phones until help arrives.
15. Pepper spray
If you’re pulled over on the side of the road, you are in a vulnerable position. Many of the tips in this article are intended to make you feel less vulnerable. But if your cell phone doesn’t have a charge and you’re unable to call for help, you will feel safer and more secure knowing you have pepper spray in your purse or glove compartment and can repel a potential threat.
All it takes is a little bit of planning and preparation to protect you and your passengers in the event of an unforeseen emergency. Being prepared will not only give you peace of mind, but it could prevent a minor accident or mechanical problem from turning into a major catastrophe.
Now that you know the various things to have in your car in case of emergency, write them down on a list and give it a name, such as “Emergency Items for Car.” Please, don’t procrastinate; take care of it today.
This blog post was contributed by Fix Auto Berkeley, a leading industry expert and collision repair shop servicing the San Francisco Bay area.