Along for the Ride

Dear Tracy,
I am a relatively new driver and just became a car owner for the first time in my life! I am extremely excited about being a car owner, but I also take the responsibility seriously. To make sure that I am prepared for any crisis situation that I may encounter while on the road, I would like to put together an emergency kit of items to keep in my car. Can you advise me as to what the best items are to include in my kit?
Alicia K.

Dear Alicia,
Congratulations on your car ownership! Isn’t it a great feeling to have the freedom that comes with owning your own car? We applaud your commitment to being a responsible driver, and traveling with a car emergency kit is an excellent idea. Here is a list of items we suggest keeping in your car:

Spare tire – Your car should include what you would need in the event of a blow out, but if you have purchased a used car, it might be a good idea to confirm you have a spare and that it is in good condition.

Portable air compressor –When your tire is leaking but hasn’t totally blown out, you can use a portable air compressor to get back on the road. The compressor fills your tire up enough to allow you to drive to a repair shop to get it fixed.

Jumper cables – One of the most basic items to include in your car emergency kit is a set of jumper cables. Your car battery could fail due to any number of reasons, from your car dome light being left on to cold weather. A set of jumper cables can mean the difference between waiting for a tow and getting back on the road. Not only may the cables help you in a jam, you might be able to assist someone else in need.

Flashlight – Keeping a strong flashlight (with a fresh set of batteries in it) is a good idea for emergency. Even in non-emergency situations, like when you drop your cell phone between the seat and the center console, a little light is a huge help!

Roadside flares –An immobile car on the side of a dark road poses a serious risk for a non-alert motorist turning a single car problem into a multi-car problem. Roadside flares not only provide a “help” signal, they alert unsuspecting drivers of a disabled vehicle near the roadway. Today, you can get LED flares, so you don’t have to light them.

Snacks & Water Bottles – If you spend a lot of time in your car, it might be a good idea to carry snacks and bottled water in your emergency stash. No one ever plans on being stranded on the side of the road, and it may occur at a time when you need to eat or drink. Just be sure to swap out the snacks from time to time, so you are not relying on stale sustenance.

Warm blankets – A few warm blankets, spare gloves, or even packets of instant hand warmer can make a long wait in the car much more bearable.

Ice scraper – In the winter months, make sure you are prepared for that layer of ice and frost. Don’t be the person out there trying to clear frosty windows with your library card!

First aid kit – Bandages, Neosporin®, pain relievers, antacids, basically anything you reach in the medicine cabinet for on a regular basis can be extremely handy to have on hand in your vehicle.

LifeHammer® – This tool is used it to break a window or cut a seatbelt, enabling escape in extreme situations. This item is definitely one that you may never use, but they are not too expensive, so it might be worth adding one to your cache.