Is Your Automobile Prepared? What Every Car Should Carry

You drive your car to work and to your relatives’ houses, but could you live in it? What would happen if one day you found yourself stranded on the side of the road during the snowstorm of the century? It’s true that cars are a way to get from point A to point B, but in extreme conditions they also become safe havens for their passengers. No matter the weather, it is always important to have emergency items in your vehicle in the case of an accident or becoming stranded.

Safety Items for the Car

  • Tow Chain. With a twenty foot tow chain, a friend or good Samaritan with a decent-sized vehicle could pull you out of a mess and you won’t have to pay for a tow truck.
  • De­-Icer. Have both windshield de-icer and gas line de-icer.
  • Distress flag. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a flag. Just make sure you have a bright piece of cloth to tie to your antenna so passersby will see that you need help.
  • Jumper cables. A basic necessity regardless of the weather or the driving conditions. Batteries can die for a number of reasons.
  • Extra oil.
  • Shovel. To save space, get a military-style folding shovel. They can be found at Army-Navy stores.
  • Spare tire, ratchet for the lug nuts and a jack.
  • Ice scraper. This is a must-have item that will often be used for more than just emergencies. You need to rid your windshield of ice before you drive your car.
  • Flares or hazard triangles. Three of these should be placed behind your car so passersby will know you need help and so they will drive by carefully in case you are outside of your vehicle.
  • Bag of road salt. You wouldn’t want to trip and fall while placing the flares.
  • Tire pressure gauge. You should be checking your tire pressure at least once a month.

Safety Items for the Passengers

  • Cell phone. Never drive with a cell phone that is low on battery. Always charge it before leaving. You can charge it in the car if you have a cord that plugs into your cigarette lighter.
  • Map. The accident on the road may not be your own, but it could block the route you’re most familiar with. Bring a map so you can find other ways home.
  • The heat in your vehicle will not last extended periods, if it works at all. To keep the people in your car warm, bring either a sleeping bag or at least two blankets for everyone.
  • Have extra winter clothes in your car in case any of the passengers did not bring theirs. Items on this list include socks, mittens, hats, thick pants and jackets.
  • Non-perishable food. Keep it in the trunk so you aren’t tempted to eat it before you need it.
  • Candles and matches. They are great for heating up the car, but they also burn oxygen. Before lighting a candle, make sure you can open the windows at least slightly to replenish the air in the car.
  • Medication. Be sure there are extra dosages of any prescription medications that your passengers will need.
  • First Aid Kit. Getting stranded could be the result of an accident. In many car crashes, the passengers get hurt. Have a first aid kit so injuries can be treated, at least temporarily.
  • Tissues. These have many uses such as cleaning and insulation.
  • Transistor Radio
  • Flashlight
  • Batteries. These can be used for the flashlight or the radio. Make sure you have the right type(s)
  • Water. This is a basic human necessity. Make sure there is enough for everyone. It might be tempting to overfill containers, but in the winter the water could freeze and burst the container.

Additional Resources

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