Stock Your Car With These Items In Case You’re Stranded

by Susan Evans

Whether you have a flat tire or some other roadside emergency, having the following items in your car will be very welcome!

WHN TIP – Be Prepared: Download our Car Emergency Kit pdf that you can save to your desktop or phone, print, and/or check off as you complete gathering your items.

Always in Your Car

  • Can of motor oil
  • Cones, warning triangles or emergency flares (keep in the trunk)
  • Empty gas can
  • Fire extinguisher
  • First aid kit (Download the free RedCross first aid mobile app – just in case!)
  • Flashlight with spare batteries

WHN TIP – Batteries: Don’t use high-end batteries (lithium, ultra, etc.) for flashlights. Too much power will burn out the flashlight’s bulb.

  • Fuses
  • Insurance: insurance card, phone number of agent, 1-800 number of company
  • Jack for tires
  • Jumper cables
  • Paper
  • Pen or pencil
  • Portable radio with spare batteries
  • Reflective vest
  • Sealant for small leaks in tires
  • Spare tire (be sure to have it checked each time you have your tires rotated)
  • Tire pressure gauge
  • Toolbox with screwdrivers, wrenches and a small hammer (keep this in glove compartment)
  • Window scraper for ice

For You and Your Family

  • Blankets
  • Bottled water
  • Emergency Information Card  (Our 3 Important Facts About Emergency Information Cards tells you what to include.)
  • Cellular phone
  • List of contact numbers for law enforcement agencies
  • Pre-moistened towelettes
  • Road atlas, maps
  • Snack food

Car Documentation

  • Car owner’s manual
  • Car registration

Just for Kids

Place a bright sticker on the child’s car seat with:

  1. Name child responds to (first name or nickname)
  2. Parents’ or guardians’ names
  3. Best phone number of parent or guardian
  4. Two names/best phone numbers of local friends/relatives in case neither parent is able to care for the child
  5. List of “Medical Must Knows” (in addition to Emergency Information Card):
    • Any allergies the child may have, especially to medication
    • Any medical conditions the child may have or have had in the past (such as diabetes, asthma etc.)
  6. Insurance information, if applicable
  7. For a young baby, type of formula (if formula-fed)
  8. Name and phone number of child’s pediatrician
  9. Anything else you would like medical personnel to know about your child (fears she may have, favorite song that may help calm her, anything you can think of that would be helpful)
  10. Read 4 Things to Know About Buying A Child Car-Seat and 7 Points About Kids and Car Safety for more car safety tips.

In Case of Emergency

In the event of an emergency or after an accident, emergency personnel will use your cell phone to look for “ICE” – who to contact In Case of an Emergency. This can save a lot of time in the attempt to retrieve lifesaving information (allergies, medication info, condition information, etc).

In your cell phone contact list, simply type the word ‘ICE’ followed by the name (ICE – Jerry) and phone number of the person to call in case of an emergency. You can enter multiple entries if you want, (ICE 1, 2, 3). Be sure to tell the person you ICE that you have ICE’d them. Tell family and friends about the importance of ICE.

Care Maintenance

Regular car maintenance is essential to avoiding future car trouble.

  1. Check your car’s manual for a timeline for suggested maintenance (e.g. oil change, tire rotation, fan belts).
  2. Get a complete car check-up at least once a year – check out your tires, oil, fluids, alignment, suspension, brakes, etc.
  3. Monitor your safety devices, which are essential to accident prevention:
    • Brakes/brake fluid
    • Hazard lights
    • Headlights
    • Horn
    • Mirrors
    • Seatbelts
    • Tail lights
    • Turn signals
  4. Check your windshield (replace cracks) and windshield/windshield wipers (replace once a year).
  5. If you notice any strange smells, smoke or sounds, get your car checked out by a professional.

WHN TIP — Finding a Mechanic: Hire a professional BEFORE car trouble starts. Read 5 Steps for Finding a Car Mechanic and

What Auto Technicians Do for top tips on hiring and choosing the best mechanic for your car.

Safe Driving

Pay attention while driving. We’ve interviewed police officers from around the country — inattention was the number one cause of accidents. Statistics also support that claim: distracted driving accounts for nearly 80% of the 6 million car crashes each year, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Examples of activities related to distracted driving include:

  • talking or texting on a cell phone
  • eating or drinking
  • reading
  • putting on makeup
  • changing the radio or mp3 player

Take the time to eat, drink, put on your makeup or make a phone call before driving.

If you must use your cell phone, use a hands-free device when talking on the cell phone while driving.

WHN TIP – Cell Phones: Many states and local jurisdictions have restrictions regarding cell phones and driving. Check with your local police department about the laws in your area.

  • Notice the other drivers around you — pay attention to the distance from their car to your car, their speed, if they’re on the phone and how they drive.
  • Wear your seatbelt.
  • Obey all traffic laws and the speed limit.
  • Apply the “two-second rule.” Watch as the vehicle ahead passes a landmark — like a building or a telephone pole. Count “one-thousand-one, one-thousand-two.” If you pass that same spot before getting to “two,” you may be following too close and should consider slowing down.
  • Slow down in severe weather conditions. Read 12 Winter Driving Tips from the Experts and 26 Tips for Safe Driving in the Rain for tips on preparing for and driving in different weather.
  • Be careful at night. Pull over if it’s too difficult to see or if you start to feel drowsy. Read 7 Signs of Drowsy Driving — And What to Do and 5 Ways to Improve Your Night-Driving Skills for more prevention and driving safety tips.

Look Into Insurance

Let’s face it; insurance is helpful in case of an accident. Interview insurance companies for car insurance coverage. Sit down with your insurance agent. Read over your policy and ask about your car insurance coverage options. (Tips at 6 Points to Cover About Car Insurance.)

WHN TIP – Policies: Review your policies each year. Remember to update your policies if there is a new driver or additional accessories added to your car (stereo, car alarm, detailing, etc.)

WHN Reader TIP – Gap Insurance: “Gap insurance can insure for the difference between what you might owe on a vehicle and what an insurance company might say it’s worth. One of my major lessons I learned was about gap insurance. I did not have it and was left with several thousand dollars to pay.” Autumn M., Brooklyn, NY

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