Imagine that one of your parents or a sibling is in an emergency situation and a passing motorist could have stopped to help, but didn’t have the tools to do anything for them causing them to endure more injury – or worse. Or, what if your child goes into the ditch due to icy, snow covered roads and doesn’t have the items they need to survive until help can arrive (like snacks, water, and a blanket to stay warm)?
If you think that these situations are not likely, then think again. They happen each and every day, which is why you should always have certain items in your car and ready to access at a moment’s notice. Not only will these things make life easier if something goes wrong, they can possibly even help you save a life (whether your own or someone else’s).
With that thought in mind, here are 20 things you will want to put in your trunk or backseat just in case you ever need them:
Not only will a flashlight help you find your way at night if you go in the ditch and aren’t familiar with your surroundings, but it can also be used to flag down anyone in the area who might not see you otherwise. Move the beam from side to side in the general direction of close by houses and/or cars and you may be able to attract attention from someone who can help.
Of course, your flashlight isn’t going to do you any good if the batteries are dead, so always keep a spare set on hand. You’ll also want to keep extra batteries for anything else that you may need to use in an emergency situation (such as your cell phone).
#3 High visibility vest
Whether you are in auto accident yourself or stopping to help someone else who was just involved in a crash, the worst thing you can do is get hit by another motorist who happens to be passing through the area. This is less likely to happen if you have a bright orange or yellow vest in your vehicle that you can slip on to become more visible to oncoming traffic.
There are two types of gloves that you should keep in your vehicle at all times. One is winter gloves so that if you go into the ditch or need to help someone else in cold weather, you won’t risk frostbite to your fingers. The second type is latex gloves. These come in handy when you’re assisting someone who is injured and bleeding, as they will protect you from any bloodborne diseases.
You lose a lot of body heat out of the top of your head, which makes this one area critical to keep covered in the event that you’re going to be in cold elements for any length of time. Get a thick hat to keep in your emergency bag and you will be glad it’s there if you need it.
Go into the ditch in the middle of a snowstorm and it could be hours or even days before anyone finds you. That means that you’re going to have to stay warm in the meantime and a blanket can help you do just that. Also, if you happen to come across an accident scene and someone is going into shock, keeping them warm with a blanket is critical for their safety.
Again, driving in wintery conditions means being prepared in the event that you have to trudge through a lot of snow to find help. Keep a set of boots in your trunk to protect your toes from frostbite (as that is one of the areas of the body that is usually affected first).
#8 Athletic shoes
This is one item you will want regardless of the weather. If your car breaks down and you are wearing heels, for instance, you’re going to wish you had a pair of comfortable shoes to take the potentially long walk to the nearest house or business.
#9 Extra socks
Back to the scenario of being trapped in your vehicle in the cold, you’ll want to keep your feet as dry as you can because wet toes get frostbit sooner. Having a pair of extra socks on hand then may be the difference between keeping your cute little toes intact or losing them because they got too cold.
#10 Kitty litter
Slide off the road when it is snowy and/or icy and you’re probably not going to do anything other than spin your wheels. However, if you have kitty litter in your car, you can pour some under the tires to give them some traction, allowing you to drive out onto the roadway and get back on your way.
If you’re stuck in your car for any length of time, you’re going to want to have access to drinking water as you can’t survive for long without it. You may want to take one or two bottles with you each time you leave home so they don’t freeze in wintery weather.
In addition to water, you’re also going to want to have some snacks on hand too. Opt for food options like protein bars and trail mix to help you keep your energy up until help can arrive.
Having flares allows you to draw attention to yourself if you need help and they can also be placed in the roadway to warn oncoming traffic to slow down if your vehicle isn’t safely on the shoulder.
#14 Spare tire
Whether you hit something in the roadway that punctures your tire or it is just old and worn out, not having a replacement may mean the difference between you being on your way within minutes or having to wait until a tow truck can arrive and paying a hefty tow bill.
#15 Jumper cables
The only thing worse than being stranded by a dead car battery is not having jumper cables to rectify the problem. You’ll never run into this issue if you always have a pair on hand and ready to go.
#16 Paper maps
In areas of bad cell service, you’re not necessarily going to be able to pull up GPS to figure out where you are and how to get where you’re going. Therefore, you should always have paper maps on hand for situations such as these.
#17 Empty gas can
Even if you keep a close eye on your gas gauge, keeping an empty gas can in your car may allow you to help someone else who isn’t so attentive.
#18 Cell phone and charger
Most everyone nowadays has a cell phone but, if you don’t, you should always keep an old deactivated one in your car. You don’t have to have service to it to call for help, making it an invaluable tool if you need emergency medical assistance.
#19 CPR mask
If you know CPR (which everybody should learn in case your family and friends need it), then keep a mask on hand so that you can help someone in distress without putting yourself at risk of any unknown illnesses or diseases.
#20 Stuffed animal
No, this isn’t for you (unless you want it to be), but more so for any small child that you may run across in an emergency situation. Giving him or her a stuffed animal may give them comfort in what can be a very stressful time.
If you don’t have these things in your vehicle already, put them in now. Hopefully you never need any of them, but if you do, you’ll be glad you have they are there.