If you have children under your care, you can’t be too prepared. Which means that your car should be packed with essentials. After all, we spend a great deal of time in our automobiles, and getting lost or stranded is always a possibility. Be prepared, and these scenarios are mere inconveniences; get caught unprepared, however, and you could find yourself in a hazardous situation. For this reason, consider keeping these items in your car.
A first-aid kit is a must. There are a multitude of traveling first-aid kits to choose from. Thankfully, nearly all of them come with bandages, gauze, cleansing wipes, scissors, tweezers, swabs, pads, tape, and more. Essentially, you want items that can stop bleeding and close up cuts long enough for you to either head home or to a hospital.
It costs almost nothing to keep a large jug of water in your trunk or rear hatch area, yet this water could save your life if your car breaks down in an inaccessible area – particularly if you break down on a hot day. Of course, having extra water on hand can come in handy if your radiator starts leaking or your car overheats as well. It could mean the difference between being stranded and making it to the repair shop.
The benefits of this one are fairly self-evident. It’s easier to walk (or Uber) to the local gas station with a one-gallon gas can than it is to try and push your car there! Like having extra water on hand, this simply makes sense; a small gas can takes up little space yet could prove incredibly handy when you need it.
These triangles store flat, which means they’re easy to hide away under a seat or in your trunk. If your car breaks down, you are involved in a minor fender bender, or you happen upon another accident on the road, reflective triangles can alert drivers of the hazard on the road.
Every man needs a multi-tool, right? With pliers, grips, screwdrivers, and multiple cutting blades built right in, multi-tools are incredibly practical and useful items. The myriad number of things that they can help with are too numerous to list. Rest assured, when you need a multi-tool, you will be glad that you have one! Slip it into your glove box or carry it on your body like Mythbuster Adam Savage.
It’s harder to break a car window than one might expect. In fact, thanks to modern laminated safety glass, a car’s windshield is all but unbreakable. Which means if you do find yourself in an emergency situation and need to break one or more windows in your car, you will want a window punch or window hammer. These tools are designed specifically to break glass and will allow you to reliably break through a car’s passenger windows.
It never hurts to have extra food in the car, not only because kids are often hungry, but because it could help in an emergency situation. Of course, perishable food won’t do, nor will canned food, so instead consider protein bars and other non-perishable items.
A small fire extinguisher can prove incredibly helpful, particularly if you happen across a minor brush fire or vehicle fire on the side of the road. If your own vehicle starts to burn, prioritize exiting the vehicle and removing your children from the scene. Only when they are safe should you attempt to put out the flames.
Having printed maps of the local area may seem unnecessary in the day of GPS, but you might think otherwise if you’re an hour outside of town, it’s night, and your phone is nearly dead. That’s the good thing about maps – they don’t use batteries!
For portability and usability, it’s hard to beat an LED flashlight. They are small and lightweight, yet give off tremendous illumination. Throw one in your glovebox and forget about it – you’ll be glad it’s there when you need it (and it will work much better than the light on your smartphone).
As with many of the items on this list, jumper cables are one of those things that you hope to never have to use, but will be glad that you have the day you inevitably need them. Of course, we use jumper cables so infrequently that it’s easy to forget how to use them. Remember this simple step-by-step guide on using jumper cables: 1. Red to 2. Red, 3. Black (theirs) to 4. Ground (yours).
Having a back-up pair of sunglasses in your center console is one of those things that in hindsight seems so simple, you’ll wonder why it took you so long to do it. Think of the benefits. You won’t lose them, they’ll always be there when you need them, and you can keep your expensive Ray-Ban sunglasses free of scratches by using a cheap pair for emergency duty. Again, it just makes sense.
Many modern cities have finally joined the 21st century and installed card readers on their parking meters. But not ALL parking meters. Even in 2016, with the joys of Apple Pay and mobile car sharing, paying for parking is still a reality for many of us. Keep a roll of quarters in your car and avoid the frustration of having to park in a lot (for more money) because you don’t have loose change.
Equip Your Vehicle for Adventure
This list is hardly conclusive. Simple items like blankets and umbrellas, for example, aren’t on the list, though certainly are good to have. And then there are those items which make sense for the more adventurous among you. A pop-up tent, sleeping bags, pillows, or spare clothing. Needless to say, any list of must-haves will change depending on the person. But this is a good list to start with!