The whole family is psyched to hit the road and escape. But whether it’s a day trip or a week-long jaunt, “safety first” means always having a few items on hand for an emergency on wheels.
Some items (like ice scrapers) can be seasonal, depending on the part of the country where you live. But others should be the ones that are go-tos, all year long, so leave room in the trunk:
- Bag of Kitty Litter with Folding Shovel. Pour some under tires when stuck to provide traction in ice or mud.
- Blanket. Stranded in the cold once the sun goes down? A blanket (or a spare sweatshirt or two) can help keep you warm.
- Bottled Water, Healthy Snacks, and Small Cooler. Foods that won’t spoil (check expiration dates) like protein bars, fruit strips, nuts, or pumpkin seeds can help with hunger while calling for help.
- Cell Phone and Mobile Charger. That doesn’t mean talking while driving. It means having access to directions, or calling for a tow truck (or 911) if your car is disabled. Charge up your mobile charger so you can re-charge your phone if your car battery dies, or worse.
- Duct Tape. There’s lots that this tape can do, like making a temporary splint with a stick for a leg injury.
- Fire Extinguisher. Look for a small one that can put out fires caused by different substances.
- First Aid Kit. You can buy a good, pre-made first aid kit for about $10, or pack everything needed for minor medical care in a zipped baggie. Items include an antiseptic, an antibiotic ointment, cotton balls, and gauze; latex-free first-aid tape, band aids (all sizes), and gloves; safety pins; a small pair of scissors; soap; a thermometer; and tweezers. Don’t forget to pack any over-the-counter or prescription meds that you’re taking. (Talk to your doctor about any refills needed for extended trips). Pack a spare inhaler if you have asthma. Add an EpiPen to counteract anaphylaxis if you’re severely allergic to certain foods or insect stings. (Call 9-1-1 in an emergency!)
- Flares, Flashlight, and Batteries. Flares can section off the area where you’re pulled over and alert other drivers or emergency vehicles.
- Jumper Cables. Learn how to charge a dead battery before you drive.
- Rags or Towels. Use them for oil spillage, and more.
- Rain Ponchos. You’ll be prepared in a downpour.
- “Multi-Tool.” Bring an all-in-one gadget with a small can opener, scissors, screwdriver, and knife.
- Tire Pressure Gauge. Keep a watch on tires if they get low.
- Windshield Washing Fluid. It never hurts to carry extra.
Avoid fatigue and distractions (no talking on your cell). Buckle-up. Drive sober. Never leave kids or pets in a locked, hot car. Preparing yourself, your family, and your car will help to ensure a happier journey!
By Lisa Miceli Feliciano