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Safety first: 12 items you should always have in your vehicle

improvise waterproof shoes, keep feet dry, keep feet warm
600 400 Survival Common Sense Blog | Emergency Preparedness

You spend an average of 19 days in your vehicle every year, and that’s just the work commute, according to the New York Post. 

Since we spend so much time in our vehicles, it’s critical to have everything needed in case of an emergency. Plus, it’s nice to have some things that make life a little easier.

by Mark Hedman

 Here are some items that you should always keep in your car. 

  • Everything Needed to Change or Fix a Tire

Some people can go a lifetime without having a flat tire, and then there are people who aren’t so lucky. A flat tire is a total pain, so you need the right tools to fix one. Getting AAA or some other roadside service would be another good idea in case the fix is beyond your capabilities.

You’ll need a spare tire, tire pressure gauge, car jack, lug wrench, and tire iron. You can also use the tire pressure gauge regularly to keep your tires at the proper inflation level. That can save you and improve how your vehicle handles, as well as help your tires last longer.

A tire inflator and a sealer are other good items to add. The sealer will help you get to the closest auto shop if nothing else. 

  • Duct Tape

Duct tape can fix anything, right? It can temporarily fix many things on your car, such as holding pieces of your car on, fixing rips in the interior, holding a mirror on, and many more. Just remember to get the problem fixed professionally, especially if you use it on the outside of your car to hold parts in place. If you’re completely prepared and have a bug-out bag in your car, you can use it to fix holes in your tent or bag, among other things.

  • Fire Extinguisher

A fire extinguisher is one of those items that you keep in your car and hope you never have to use. But if you don’t have one and you need it, you’ll be sorry. You can use it to put a fire out in your car or even someone else’s. 

  • Jumper Cables

Unfortunately, you’re probably more likely to have a dead battery than a flat tire. Perhaps your kids left a light on in your vehicle or someone left the ignition position on accessory mode to listen to music. It’s also much easier to find any other car to help jump-start your vehicle instead of another car with jumper cables.

  • Water
water sources at grocery

The Nalgene, center, is a primary water bottle. The two soft, roll-up water containers can be carried as backups.

Water is necessary for survival. While most of us don’t plan to stay in our car for hours, you may be forced to if you break down in a blizzard or get stuck somewhere. Maybe you parked your car out on a trail and went hiking, but you came back and the car wouldn’t start. You can’t always rely on your cell phone because it can die or you may simply be out of range to make calls. So, keeping water with you ensures that you remain hydrated.

  • Flashlight

This item is a must since we often travel at night. In fact, stock at least two in your car. Better yet, make it a sturdy tactical flashlight that can double as an impact weapon if you’re attacked. If you break down at night, it will be difficult to identify and fix the problem without a flashlight. It’s also impossible to fix a flat tire in the dark. 

You can use a flashlight to signal for help, and some even come with directions to signal SOS. Your smartphone may have a flashlight app on it, but, again, you can’t always rely on them. 

  • Non-Perishable Food

You can go longer without food than water, but it’s still nice to stock some shelf-stable food away in case you’re stuck somewhere for an extended amount of time. Stash some energy or protein bars or MREs in a rodent-proof survival bag or box. MREs are Meals Ready to Eat, and the military uses them in field exercises and at other times. All you need to do is add water. They were also a favorite Cold War-era staple.

Picture this. You take a brief vacation in a cabin in the woods away from civilization with no phone service. Maybe you go to leave, and your car won’t start. Well, you may need food because you didn’t expect to be stuck. Or maybe a day into your wilderness trip, a bear gets into your food supply. There have even been stories of people who were in car accidents that weren’t discovered for seven days or more. You may be too injured to move very far, but you need food and water to survive.

    • Owner’s Manual and Other Paperwork

We don’t know many people who take their vehicle manual out of the car, so it should be in your glove box. You should also keep the car registration and insurance in there as well. Always keep this paperwork in your car in case of an accident or traffic stop. Also, add a pen and paper in case you need to copy a license number down. 

  • First Aid Kit

First aid supplies are other essential survival items to keep in your vehicle. Whether you’re in an accident or hurt yourself trying to change a tire, a first aid kit is necessary. You should keep at least the bare essential medical supplies in your vehicle. You can buy a premade first aid kit or build your own.

  • Emergency Blanket

If you break down in the cold or wet weather, you can run the risk of hypothermia. You’ll eventually run out of gas if you’re stuck for a long time. An emergency blanket can keep you warm and help you survive. (Editor’s note: Get a Space Blanket or sturdy reflective blanket – the flimsy Mylar blankets can be dangerous! )

  • Maps

Detailed maps can show alternate routes if primary roads are blocked. A compass is always useful.

We know paper maps aren’t cool anymore, but you’ll be thankful for one if you’re lost and your phone is out of service or the battery dies. A paper map can pretty much get you anywhere you need to be. You should probably learn how to read one as well.

  • USB Charger

Okay, so smartphones are very useful. You can keep a charger that plugs into the cigarette lighter in your car. Or get one of those portable chargers or power banks that keeps multiple electronics charged. You may be able to keep your phone charged to make a call, get to your contacts, or search for something you need on the internet.

These are several items to keep in your car in case of an emergency. Designate a storage spot in your trunk or store things in a bag that’s easily accessible. There may be other tools that you find essential, so add them to your stockpile. Next time you find yourself stranded, you’ll have the tools you need to fix the problem or get help. 

Mark Hedman

Mark Hedman is the CEO for LA Police Gear. Mark oversees a little bit of everything, from product development to walking the dogs from the Valencia, CA headquarters. Before joining LA Police Gear, Mark was just a kid that was very interested in programming and e-commerce. Starting from the bottom, he worked his way up through all stages of the company. Mark loves animals and the outdoors. He tries to spend as much time at the range as possible or hanging out with the pups.

Check out another Mark Hedman story.

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