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Eight Items to Buy and Keep in Your Car for Emergencies

The occasional car breakdown or child injury has led Abby Slutsky to keep a well-stocked car, so she is prepared for anything.

Although I do not have car issues or emergencies requiring items from my vehicle often, I keep a lot of emergency supplies in my car. My husband laughs that I am stocked with things I will never use, but I have used most of my emergency stash at one time or another. Some of these items you may already have in your car, and others may be items you want to consider.

As a woman, the last thing I want is to be stuck in a completely dead car at night by myself. While the items in my car will not magically fix my vehicle, they can make me more comfortable while I wait for assistance. Other items, I keep for general emergencies or minor injuries. I did not include jumper cables or a jack on my list because I believe most people would automatically keep them in their vehicles for emergencies.

The Vibelight is Illuminating.

1. Vibelight Battery Operated Light Switch

This is probably my favorite emergency item because they are inexpensive and easy to use. I bought a package of Vibelight Battery Operated Light Switches to keep everywhere. It is more economicaI to buy them in packages of four than as a single light. I have them in my bedroom, kitchen, and car. A simple flick of a switch illuminates a small area well, and multiple switches will light up a large room. I have tried a few other brands, but I think the Vibelight is a little brighter than some of its competitors.

I use them during power outtages instead of flashlights because they provide more light than flashlights, and I do not have to hold them. The one time my vehicle went completely dead and it started getting dark, I was happy to light up my entire car with one little switch. They do not take up much room, so I keep one in my glove compartment and one in a side compartment on the driver’s side. Make sure to install the AAA batteries, and test them when they arrive.

You can also mount these light switches, but I have never done so. I like that they are portable, so I can move them to various locations as I need them. Once I left a dark restaurant to get a Vibelight from my car, so I could read the menu easily.

2. Phone Charger

I usually plug my phone into a charger as soon as I get in my vehicle. The habit helps ensure that my phone rarely goes dead, and if I have car trouble, I am assured that I have, at minimum, some charge to make a phone call. However, when my car has problems I like to minimize my phone usage if I am unable to recharge it while I am waiting for help. (It helps to put the setting of my phone on power saving by using the setting icon.)

If you have more than one vehicle, I recommend purchasing a charger for each car. When we only had one, it was not unusual to be in the car that did not have the charger. If you keep one in each car at all times, you will never have to worry about being unable to charge your phone.

3. Two Toothbrushes and Toothpaste

One toothbrush I keep for my teeth. If I am stuck and fall asleep, I am not a fan of wake-up breath. A small, travel-size toothpaste is perfect to keep in your glove compartment or center console. The second toothbrush I keep for car emergencies. I still remember a time when I would have been stuck if it was not for my toothbrush (and my dad).

I was with my family, and we pulled into a restaurant to grab a bite before continuing a long trip home. When we came out, my car would not start. My dad, who was not mechanical at all, asked if I had a toothbrush. (At that time, there was only one for my teeth, but I let him use it.) My dad opened the hood and started scrubbing the battery terminals, which unbeknownst to me, were corroded. I remember the rest of us cackling, and my mom even said, “Wouldn’t it be funny if this works?” Guess what? Dad knew his stuff, and a few minutes later the car purred to life.

4. Water and an Empty Water Bottle

If you are really parched, it is good to keep water in your vehicle. It is optimal to have cold water in your car, but it may not be practical to keep a cooler in your car and replace water bottles and icepacks frequently. If you are driving around with water, try to keep it away from sunlight. Prolonged exposure to sun can cause chemicals in plastic water bottles to leak into the water.

In addition to drinking it, water is useful for cleaning your hands and washing down car surfaces. It can also help a car engine get cooler.

If you have an empty plastic water bottle, keep it in your vehicle with the cap. It is not ideal, but if you really need it, you can use it to store bodily waste. The cap will seal firmly, so the contents does not spill or smell.

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5. First-Aid Kit

My memory of using my car’s first -aid kit was not when I had a breakdown. My son used to play USTA tennis tournaments, We were at one tournament and the director gave the first person who checked in for his match a can of balls. My son opened the can and sliced his finger very deeply on the metal.

Surprisingly, the director had no first-aid kit, but fortunately I had one in my car. I bandaged my son up and asked if he wanted to go to the hospital. He insisted on playing the game (but really should not have). Right afterwards, we went to the doctor, but luckily he did not need stitches because we had wrapped it very well.

I have used a number of different first-aid kits over the years and have even made my own. If you make your own, organize it in a box that closes well. Read what is included in purchased first-aid kits to be certain that you create a well-stocked kit.

I used to have the Be Smart Get Prepared 100 Piece First Aid Kit that had a plastic case that shut firmly and could withstand rattling in my trunk without opening. It had bandages, anti-septic, gauze and tape, but it did not include scissors. I used it a few times in the rain, so I liked the water resistant case. When my son started driving, I gave it to him to keep in his trunk. I added a packet of travel-size headache medication to the kit because it was a convenient place to keep it.

Keep a Scissors for Cutting or Scraping

You never know when a pair of scissors will be handy for cutting a bandage in your car.

You never know when a pair of scissors will be handy for cutting a bandage in your car.

6. Scissors

Although some first-aid kits include a small scissors, I keep a full-size pair in my car’s middle console. I have used it to cut bandages and scrape sticky substances from my window shield.

I used to keep a scissor in my car before I started keeping other emergency items in it. I am one of those people who buys sunglasses as I need them or over-the-counter medication while I am on the go. It always seems like I need my scissors for opening something in the car.

While I am not recommending any particular scissors because I do not even know what is in my car right now, I am cautioning you to get a sharp pair. There is a huge difference in quality between a cheap and expensive pair. When I am in my vehicle, I want a pair that gets the job done fast.

7. White Towel

White flags are symbolically a sign of surrendar or a plea for help. Some people leave them on cars they must abandon hoping that the cars will not get towed. Other people wave them to attract assistance. Although you probably have a cell phone to call for help, a white towel can still be a helpful emergency item to keep in your car.

Additionally, it can double as a blanket to keep me warm if the car starts to get cold. Although not an emergency use, my white towel also serves me well when my seats are unbearably hot. (Well, maybe when my skin is scalding and uncomfortable, I do consider it a minor emergency.)

8. Flare Lights

I was with a friend when he used these, and the visibility from Orion flare lights made it easy for help to find us. Keep them in your car where they are easily accessible for emergencies. I thought these had an intense beam and lit easily. If you just throw them down, they can roll because they are a cylindrical shape. My friend carefully placed them on the road, so they did not roll around.

If you have not used them previously, familiarize yourself with how they work. The time to learn how to use and light them is not when you need them.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Abby Slutsky

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