The weather is warm, vacation has started, you’re 50 miles from your destination—and chances are you’re not thinking about what could go wrong on the road ahead.
“While no one can plan for car trouble, in emergency situations it is helpful to have some preparations in place,” says Mindy West, GEICO director of Centralized Services. So stock your car with these basics and don’t forget to replace water and batteries as needed.
1. First-aid kit & accessories
Add a flashlight and whistle to your basic first-aid kit. Set a calendar reminder to change the flashlight batteries every few months.
2. Basic tools
Always be sure to have at least three tools on hand: a screwdriver (to tighten up something that’s been loosened by vibration or age), a torque wrench (to correctly set nuts) and a utility knife (in case you ever need to cut yourself out of your seatbelt after an accident).
Protecting your hands is a must, no matter what the temperature. Opt for sturdy mechanic gloves made of leather or a rubber and synthetic combination.
4. Tow rope and bungee cords
These can be invaluable to help get you out of a jam. To use the tow rope, you’ll need to find another car that’s able to yank yours to safety. Bungees help you safely secure an item to your car’s roof.
5. Warning triangles and light sticks
Make certain other motorists can see you, day or night. Bonus: Since they don’t need batteries, you don’t have to worry about upkeep.
6. Tire pressure gauge
Tire pressure—which ensures maximum handling, traction and durability—fluctuates with the temperature, so it’s important to keep a gauge handy. Tires may become over-inflated when the outside temperature is hot and under-inflated when it’s cold.
7. Phone charger
As important as your phone itself. Add an adapter for the cigarette lighter if your car doesn’t have a USB port.
8. Jumper cables
In case your car battery goes dead. And of course, you should know how to use them.
9. Water and snacks
In case of an emergency, they’ll provide sustenance until help arrives.
10. Extra clothes
For unexpected outdoor adventures, pack a rain jacket and at least one layer of clothing to keep you warm.
11. Kitty litter
Stuck in the mud or snow? With a small bag in the trunk, you’ll be able to sprinkle some around your tires for traction.