It’s time for a wonderful guest entry from former park ranger and all-around badass Mary, who has compiled an amazingly comprehensive list of things that can and should live in your car. Yes, you may not use them often, but nothing ups one’s confidence level like knowing you can handle everything short of the zombie apocalypse with materials already on-hand. Mary?
If you’ve been following Adulting for a while you know that Kelly has already touched on emergency preparedness when she told us all in step 57 to start putting an together an emergency kit for our houses, but we never really talking about what should be in a good emergency preparedness kit for a car.
So let’s take a look at some items to include in your car emergency kit.
First-aid kit: If you are ever in a situation where you need to use an emergency kit, chances are pretty good that some needs first aid care. Get or put together a kit with gauze, a couple different sizes of bandaids, alcohol wipes, and Neosporin. If you live some where sunny, include sunscreen. If it is buggy where you live, include bug spray.
Food and water: If you ever get stranded, it could be a while before help arrives, so seriously, grab some food and water. Get some sturdy containers and non-perishable food items like granola bars and set your vehicle up with a snack station. (It comes in handy more often than you think!) Water and food should probably be changed out every 3-6 months depending on the average temp inside your car.
Fold-up shovel: A great idea if you ever get stuck in snow or mud and need to dig yourself out. You can probably pick one up at a camping/sports store
Pocket knife/multi-tool: These come in handy more ways than I can probably list.
Window brush/scraper: Pretty important if you live in a wintery location.
Windex wipes: This might just be me, but I have a tendency to accidentally gunk up the insides of my windows, making things harder to see at night, so I try to keep some windex in my car for vision-limiting mishaps.
Blankets: It gets cold at night. Make sure you have a blanket just in case. Also good for impromptu beach trips or picnicking.
Jumper Cables: Car batteries can run out faster than you think, and it’s a lot easier to jump a car yourself and drive it somewhere for service than it is to call a tow truck (and it is especially cheaper if you don’t have AAA!)
Tire gauge: Know it. Love it.
Tool kit: This is pretty much only useful if you know how to perform some basic repairs in your car (or frequently travel with someone who does.) So get yourself a tool kit and then learn how to fix your car.
Flashlight: VERY USEFUL if it has working batteries. If you ever get stuck at night, even if you’ve got a tool kit and everything else, you may not be able to fix your car without a working flashlight.
Extra batteries: Just in case your flashlight/anything else runs out of power. Just be aware that extreme heat can degrade your batteries over time, so check them once in a while and replace them when necessary.
Extra oil/fluids: I make a habit of having an extra quart on hand just in case I get low. If you have the space for it, it’s a good idea to have some extra anti-freeze and washer fluid too.
Commercial window breaker (aka LIFEHAMMER): Every good Mythbusters fan knows that Adam and Jamie strongly recommend keeping one of these in your glove compartment. You can buy one on Amazon for about $15 or pick up a six-pack for around $80. It could mean the difference between life and death if you ever put your car in the water.
Reflective vest: You can buy a basic reflective vest for under $10, and it will help make you more visible to other drivers/emergency crews if you ever get stranded at night.
Paper goods: Paper towels, toilet paper, or tissues might be a good idea to include in your car kit for reasons varying from basic spill clean up to putting pressure on a wound to checking your car’s fluid levels.
Cell phone car charger: I think this one is pretty self-explanatory. If you get into a sticky situation, you want to be able to call for help. You can’t do that if your cell phone is dead.
Some final notes: You’ll probably want to go over your car kit seasonally and make sure that everything is in good working order or make some changes to the kit’s contents based on how your needs change over the course of the year. You’ll also want to make sure that your spare tire is in good condition and that you have a car jack.
(photo via leif.maxfield)