In a time where the weather is extreme, drivers are distracted, and the world at large is pretty unpredictable, it’s good to be prepared and maximize your safety when you’re on the road. Don’t worry, we’re not going to suggest you wear a helmet, or anything. But there are a few simple, common-sense safety essentials for your car that’ll help you be ready for the unexpected.
Whether you get stranded in your car, or have to flee due to fire, natural disaster, or zombie apocalypse*, here are some items you’ll want to have with you:
* Water. It’s the single most important thing for survival, if you’re going to be stuck somewhere for any length of time. It’s safest to use a BPA-free plastic container (or glass, if you can secure it so that it doesn’t roll around and risk breaking.)
* Protein bars, or beef jerky. Something high in protein with a long shelf life, that can withstand heat, cold, and being stored in your trunk.
Protect Yourself from the Elements
* Sunscreen. Important to have in case you’re stranded and exposed to the elements. You can get severely burned even on an overcast day.
* Space blanket. Very compact, will take up almost no room, and provide maximum heat retention. (And yeah, they use these in space. ‘Nuff said.)
Get Back on the Road
* A spare tire and jack, and/or a can of Fix A Flat. Some cars no longer have a place for a spare tire, so you may not have one. If you don’t, you can carry a product like Fix A Flat, which will help with some types of punctures. But with blowouts, sidewall damage, or large holes, it won’t work—you’ll need to replace the tire.
* Jumper cables. One of the oldest pieces of car safety equipment available. You can buy the standard cables, or one of the newer lithium battery-based versions. They’re typically a little more expensive, but they’re great because you don’t need a second vehicle to jumpstart your car. And, they’re tiny and fit in your glove compartment.
* Emergency fuel. There have been several products on the market over the years that have claimed to be a less-flammable (still flammable, but a lot safer to carry in your trunk than actual gasoline) solution for when you run out of gas. Currently, there’s a product called Magic Tank that’s completely non-flammable. It doesn’t contain any fuel or volatile compounds, but helps push the residual gas in your tank (there’s always a little residual, even when your car “runs out” and stops) through your engine so you can safely drive to a gas station.
See and Be Seen
* Road flares, reflectors, or a modern LED-based alternative, are essential for visibility. They’re the best way to let other people on the road know that you and your car are there.
* Flashlight. Useful so that you don’t run down your battery using the interior lights in your car. And essential for safety if you need to walk anywhere at night.
Tools for Every Situation
* Duct tape. Even if you’re too young to have watched MacGyver, the virtues and versatility of duct tape are pretty much self-evident.
* Car escape tool. A basic tool with a glass punch, and a seatbelt cutter is great to have. While breaking a window sounds easy, it’s actually really hard to do with modern safety glass. The key is to have a tool with a sharp point, like a glass punch. Additionally, if you’re ever trapped in a car in water, the pressure can make it hard to open your doors. And sometimes electric windows don’t work underwater. In that case, your best bet is to brace yourself against the seat and push out the windshield with both feet.
* A multi-tool, like a Leatherman, is useful for all sorts of emergency and non-emergency situations. Whether you’re trying to fix something on your car, or slicing some cave-aged gruyere on a picnic, a multitool’s got you covered!
Beyond the above safety essentials, it’s always a great idea to have a roadside assistance plan, like AAA, to come rescue you—they’ve been doing it since 1915!
Or, if you buy a car through TRED you’ll get our TRED Vehicle Protection coverage with roadside assistance for the first 30 days, with an option to extend it up to five years.
*Remember the double tap.