There are many of car preparation guides online giving advice about what to pack for emergencies. I just read one recommending a “LifeHammer.” That’s a device that knocks out your window in case you and your car suddenly find yourselves in a body of water. This is what you should prepare for? Rather than stray into action movie territory, I present this practical list of items to keep in your car in case of real emergencies.
Something to fix a flat: the emergency you’ll experience most often is the dreaded flat tire. Your tire knows the exact worst moment to go out on you. You need to have a jack, tire iron and a properly inflated spare, usually a “donut,” and you need to know how to change a tire. Canned tire repair products such as Fix-A-Flat can work in some instances, but it’s best to just have the tools and know-how to change a tire. Once you’ve either replaced your flat tire with a donut or fixed it with a canned goop product, don’t wait too long to get to a service station to get a permanent replacement. Neither is meant to be a long-term solution.
Cell phone and charger: always always ALWAYS carry your cell phone with you in your car. And keep it charged. Get in the habit of using a car charger and use it to charge your phone while commuting so your phone will always be ready in case of emergency.
Something to charge a dead or comatose battery: ah, that dreaded clicking sound when you turn the key. Maybe your battery is old. Maybe you left the lights on. Either way, you’re stranded. Keep either a portable charging unit or a set of jumper cables – and know how to use them! – in your trunk. Charging units are somewhat easier to use and don’t require help, but jumper cables can just sit there forever while chargers need maintenance and you need to make sure they are charged.
Something to light up your work area: All the spare parts, tools and donuts in the world won’t help if you break down at night and need to work in the dark. Be sure to keep a flashlight and plenty of extra batteries handy for changing tires, jumping your battery and more in the dead of night. Don’t just leave it laying there in the trunk, either: make sure you check it once in a while or it might not work when you need it.
Something to show other drivers you’re there: flares or a reflective triangle are a must when working in the dark. You need to tell other drivers “watch out! I’m over here working.”
Flat tire repair tools, your cell phone and charger, a flashlight and flares are the most basic tools you must keep in your trunk. These are the essentials you’ll need in most cases. They won’t help if you’re sinking in the ocean, they’ll be fine 99.9999% of the time.
About the Author: Dan Dicks is a car insurance agent – so he’s heard all about the most common car emergencies. If your insurance policy is coming up for renewal you might want to visit Kanetix and compare some car insurance quotes. There’s often money to be saved for those willing to do some cost comparisons.