Last year my wife and I spent the holidays at my parents’ house. Accompanied by our 85lb Lab we drove 450 miles in a 94’ Honda Accord with one of the side mirrors taped on. Before we left to make the 450 miles journey back, my Dad said, “You should replace those tires pretty soon.” As it turned out “pretty soon” happened to be 150 miles into our journey. I should also mention that it was almost midnight, and when the tire blew I had to pull off onto a narrow shoulder butting up against a hillside. Even though I had popped a flare, it did little to comfort me as Semi trucks and drivers on their cellphones zipped by a few feet from my head at speeds that I am assuming were above 65 mph. I had my wife take the dog and stand up on the hillside just in case one of those “great” drivers who can Tweet and drive accidentally plowed into my sweet ride. Fortunately, we had a spare tire and fortunately it too didn’t blowout, even though we drove it a couple hundred miles further than it was intended to go. After this incident I realized I had no idea what was actually in my car, and had we been stranded or in an accident somewhere where the weather was colder things might have been a lot more uncomfortable or even dangerous.
Here is a quick list of things I think everyone should keep in their car. Most of the items can be found on amazon.com or in your local outdoor store.
Bare in mind this list doesn’t include the normal items your car should have I.e Jack, spare tire, tire iron, jumper cables etc…
- Cell phone charger that plugs into your car: let’s face it- we pretty much rely on our cellphones for just about everything from banking to navigating – so unless you’re planning on buying a good ol’ fashioned map- better bring your cell charger. Plus it comes in pretty handy when there are emergencies.
- Flashlight, but Preferably a Headlamp: Blowing a tire on the 101 Interstate at night sucks (or any road for that matter!), but what sucks more is lying next to your car with your head approximately 2 ft away from oncoming semis and trying to get the lug nuts off with a flashlight in-between your teeth while you are cranking on the tire iron….get a headlamp. Black diamond makes good ones at reasonable prices.
- A Gallon of Water: You never know when you might get stuck on the side of the road for hours – this is especially important in hot climates.
- First Aid Kit: This isn’t just for minor accidents, but for when you are at the beach or a party, camping, etc… It is not a bad idea to have basic pain meds, bandages, ice packs, heat packs, splinting material, aloe-vera, sunscreen, Chapstick, etc…The list could go on and on, the idea is that you customize it to your needs. Make sure you know what is in your FA Kit and how to use it. If you put in drugs such as Benadryl or Advil, know when to give it and how much. YouTube is a great research for learning basic first aid.
- Something to Cut With: I only have a knife in my truck at the moment, but I remember growing up my mom had a tool, called the Lifehammer, that could cut seat belts and break the glass. They sell them on amazon as well. It might seem overkill, but the old adage “better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it” definitely applies to most of these items.
- Flares or Chemlights: When you are in an accident, stuck on the side of the road, or simply need to change a tire at night it is definitely worth investing in flares or chemlights. These are especially necessary if your emergency lights get damaged or are not working. Place them in intervals behind your vehicle to alert other drivers that you are on the side of the road.
- Sleeping Bag or Blanket: I used to carry a sleeping bag in case I needed crash at a friend’s house or the beach after a party, but now I carry one just in case I might need it, either for myself or someone I am helping out. I would highly recommend this if you live anywhere where it snows.
- Change: Comes in handy with metered parking and also comes in handy in the rare case that your cell phone doesn’t work and you need to use a pay phone.
- Snacks: No need to get crazy, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to have a few Cliff Bars or a bag of almonds. If you are going to be stranded for a while might as well have some snacks.
- Notebook and Pen: From collecting contact info from an accident to writing down a number, to writing down a restaurant you heard was good, something to write with always comes in handy.
- Fire Extinguisher: They make small ones that can slip under a seat. Chances are you won’t need it, but again, it doesn’t hurt to have it.