September is National Preparedness Month and a great time to take simple steps so that you’re prepared in case of an emergency or unexpected situation. The majority of Americans drive cars and spend many hours each week in their vehicles. Taking the time to place a few essential items in your car can go a long way should you experience a breakdown or become stranded during a weather event or natural disaster.
Packing these items doesn’t mean you will be adding clutter. Between your glove box and a duffle bag in the trunk or back of your car, all these essentials can easily go with you wherever your travels take you.
To help ensure that you stay safe and comfortable, keep the following items in your car:
- Cell phone charger. Having a battery operated spare is also a good idea should you be stranded for any length of time or if your car battery dies.
- A small but powerful flashlight.
- A navigation system, such as a GPS system installed in your car or an app on your phone. Also keep good old-fashioned maps handy in case your gps service goes out.
- Current insurance information, vehicle registration and your car’s owner’s manual.
- A first-aid kit and any important medical information such as allergies, blood type, etc.
- Blankets, a plastic poncho and change of clothes.
- Battery operated radio or Citizens Brand (CB) radio.
- Hammer or other object to safely break a window.
- Extra batteries for your battery-powered items.
- Food and water—energy or protein bars are easy to keep in your car, and water should be replaced regularly.
For Your Car
To help your car out of a sticky situation, always have these items handy:
- Flat tire fixer, such as inflation cans and a repair kit.
- Jumper cables and a tire gauge.
- Basic tools, such as a screwdriver and pliers.
- Hazard triangles.
- If you live in a cold area, a windshield ice scraper, road salt or clumping kitty litter (and even a folding shovel if there’s room).
To keep an eye on road conditions and find additional information, visit the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration site.
FEMA recommends the following actions in case of an emergency:
- If something happens that makes it hard to control the vehicle, pull over, park and set the emergency break.
- If the stability of the roadway might be impacted, avoid overpasses, bridges, power lines, signs and other hazards.
- Stay in the vehicle if downed power lines or other hazards are present.
- Listen to the radio for information and instructions.
While most outings in your car will go without a hitch, having the right items handy is well worth the preparation if and when they’re needed.