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What to keep in your car for emergencies (and how to prepare for them)

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    We spend a lot of time driving. Whether it’s commuting to work, driving kids to school or taking a trip, a lot of life’s moving moments happen behind the wheel. Most of our car rides go smoothly and don’t require much effort beyond driving from point A to point B. There are times, however, where something unexpected pops up — so here are a few ways to stay prepared.

    How to prevent an emergency on the road

    Before an emergency has the chance to happen, there are some preventative measures you can take.

    • Start with confidence behind the wheel: Having confidence while driving is key. It’s important to be aware of what’s going on around you while remaining calm and measured in your driving decisions. You can’t control how others behave on the road, but you can control how aware you are. If you aren’t a confident driver, brushing up on your skills with a private lesson or course is always a good idea.
    • Frequently service your vehicle: Keeping your car up to date with maintenance check-ups ensures your car is in the best condition. You wouldn’t want a road emergency from something avoidable like an overdue service appointment.
    • Keep an emergency car kit and toolbox: Having an emergency kit is a simple way of staying safe and prepared in the event of a roadside emergency. These toolkits typically include safety cones to set around your car, jumper cables, a flashlight, and more.

    How to prepare for an emergency on the road

    What to keep in your car for automotive emergencies

    There are certain roadside rescues that you might be able to handle on your own if you have the right tools. Whether it’s a flat tire, vehicle breakdown or inclement weather, the following items will come in handy:

    • An inflated spare tire
    • Fire extinguisher
    • A toolkit
    • Jumper cables
    • Car manual
    • Windshield wiper fluid
    • Work gloves to protect your hands
    • Empty portable gas can

    Make sure to assess your car maintenance needs based on personal conditions as well. For example, if you live in an area with snowy winters, make sure to have an ice scraper and snow brush on hand.

    What to keep in your car for personal emergencies

    Putting personal emergency resources in your trunk or glove compartment can provide you with some peace of mind. If your car breaks down, or if you have a minor injury, you know you have these items to fall back on. Here are some recommendations for things to keep in your kit:

    • Non-perishable snacks like protein bars, nut butters and cold cereal
    • Water
    • First-aid kit
    • Flashlight
    • General over the counter needs or prescription medicine you’d need on hand in an emergency
    • A blanket
    • Sweatshirt and sweatpants
    • Paper towels
    • Pen and paper

    You can throw your kit into a box or backpack in the trunk and remember to switch out any items that may expire over time.

    How to contact emergency services

    If you’re hurt or in danger, dial 911 or your local emergency service. But for other car related roadside emergencies, this is where a membership with a roadside assistance service can come in handy.

    If you don’t have a roadside assistance membership, you can contact a local towing company. Alternately, you can still call a roadside assistance company without a membership, but you’ll have to sign up on the spot or incur the costs of your transaction.

    Now that you know what to keep in your car in case of an emergency (and how to prepare for one ahead of time), you can hit the road safely and stay focused on getting to your destination.

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