From getting a flat tire to a dead battery — anything can happen to you while driving on the road, so it’s best to be prepared for whatever comes your way. There are certain things that you should always have in your car which will help you handle any unforeseen emergency. This is especially important if you’re planning a lengthy road trip or if you live in a remote, rural area. This handy checklist is split into six major categories: documentation, health, and safety and maintenance. It contains all the essential items you should keep in your car in case the worst happens.
Vehicle Owner’s Manual
The owners manual contains all the necessary information about your specific vehicle, including troubleshooting and maintenance instructions. It already comes with your car, and may be specifically located in your glove box, so make sure it’s still there and avoid taking it out unless you absolutely need to.
License, Registration, and Insurance Documents
No matter how careful you are, there’s always a chance that you may be pulled over by the cops for whatever reason. As soon as you see police car lights flashing behind you, you’ll have to pull off to the side off the road and present your license, registration, and insurance documents which are required by law. You should never leave home with these in either your wallet or your glove box compartment to ensure that any run-in with the police goes over smoothly and without complications. Don’t forget to keep all these documents up-to-date, as well.
Emergency Contact Information
In case you get into an accident, you should always have a card with you that details your emergency contact information. Print it on durable card paper, laminate it, and keep it either in your wallet or in your glove compartment where it may be easily accessed by first responders.
If you suffer from a health condition that requires medication, you should keep an extra set of them in your car. Just be sure to check the instructions on how to store them properly to ensure that they don’t expire.
Keep disinfecting wipes, paper towels, and hand sanitizer on hand in your car to keep yourself safe from illness-causing germs and bacteria. You may also keep an extra set of masks in your car as an extra precaution in case you forget your face mask at home. Other cleaning and hygiene products that you might need include plastic trash bags, reusable shopping bags, bottles of water, and a small trash can.
First Aid Kit
In the event that you get into an accident either on the road or in general, it’s always helpful to have a first aid kit in your car. A basic first aid kit should have gauze dressings in different sizes, band-aids in different sizes, antiseptic cream, medical tape, a thermometer, painkillers, a small set of scissors, sterile gloves, tweezers, disinfecting wipes, bottles of distilled water, antihistamines, and bug spray. You can either buy all these things yourself or buy a prepacked first aid kit from a drugstore.
Safety, Repairs, and Maintenance
Getting into an accident at night is terrifying, but it’s even more terrifying if you don’t have a flashlight with you in case you need to change a tire or walk towards a safe place. Don’t forget to keep an extra set of batteries in your glove compartment, as well.
Car hammers are used to break your windows in case you’re trapped and need to escape. They should be mounted in an easy-to-access location such as the side door pocket.
Reflective triangles will help keep you safe at night in the event that your car breaks down in the dark. This helps you flag down people who may be able to help you fix your vehicle as well as provide visibility for oncoming traffic so that your vehicle doesn’t get hit as you wait for help to come.
Jumper Cables and Portable Battery Booster
Jumper cables and battery boosters help jump start your battery in case it dies on you. You can always just wait for roadside assistance to help you out, but it’s still important to have these on hand in case you find yourself in an area that’s unsafe or if you’re running late for something.
Spare Tire, Tire Jack, and Lug Wrench
Flat tires are a common problem that every car owner has to face at least once in their lives. Be prepared for it by making sure you have a spare tire, tire jack, and lug wrench in your car. Don’t forget to regularly check that your spare tire is inflated.
You never know when you’ll get into trouble on the road, so it’s crucial to have these things in your car to keep yourself safe. Other miscellaneous things you should have on-hand also include a portable phone charger, extra clothes, and extra food and water.