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For some, a vehicle is a person’s home away from home, which is why keeping some essential items in your car or truck can really come in handy and even save lives. Out of my friends, I’m usually the one that drives, so having a vehicle ready for most situations is pretty useful and comforting. A good rule of thumb is asking yourself if you can survive in your vehicle for 24 hours. I’ve compiled a list of car essentials and explain why they’re important.
First aid kit
Above anything else, a solid first aid kit is an essential item for your vehicle. Whether you’re making a quick run to the store or heading out on a road trip across the country, an accident could happen. No one expects you to become a paramedic with it, but the contents could save a life in the time it takes for first responders to get to you. A first aid kit is super customizable to your life and what you and your vehicle do but here are some essentials to get you started:
- Band aids
- Antibacterial wipes
- Basic medications
- Gauze pads
- Gauze roll
- Bandaging tape
- Nitrile gloves
- Trauma shears
- Chest seal
With all these items, it’s important that you know how to use them.
While you should always have water with you, it doesn’t hurt to store some extra in your vehicle. Depending on where you live, this can be a little challenging in harsh weather. I’ve found that single walled stainless steel bottles are the best for this. In extreme heat, stainless steel won’t leak harmful chemicals into the water like plastic will, and in below freezing temperatures, they won’t crack when frozen.
Flashlights are an incredibly useful tool, so much to the point that I carry one on myself every day. While that may seem excessive to most, it’s a great thing to keep in your vehicle instead of relying on your phone flashlight. A flashlight can also be used for self defense if it has a strobe feature.
A great brand of lights is Olight, they carry super compact flashlights that are USB rechargeable, magnetic and waterproof. Another great light option is a headlamp; it provides a hands free light source if you need to work on something with both hands.
Glass breaker/seatbelt cutter
While this hopefully never gets used, there’s always a chance you get stuck in a bad situation because your airbag doesn’t deploy or your door won’t open in an accident. A glass breaker and seatbelt cutting tool can save your life and others. It’s important to keep it somewhere that you and your passengers can access easily. A good option is the Resqme tool. It is cheap, compact, and proven to work.
While it’s not a life saving item, having an entire extra change of clothes (shoes, socks, underwear, bottom, top and hat) is always a good idea and can really save the day. You never know when you could spill a beverage all over yourself. In the colder months, I’ve also found it very useful to store a jacket, beanie and gloves if you end up staying out later than you expected.
Having a spare set of tools in your vehicle can come in handy for an infinite number of reasons. This is also an item that is super dependent on what you and your car do. I work in construction and enjoy going on road trips, so having an extra set of tools at the ready is almost a necessity. With that being said, a person working as an accountant that does hot yoga on the weekends probably would not need to keep a hammer in their vehicle. At the very least, a pair of jumper cables, a socket wrench set, a 6 in 1 screwdriver and a pair of lineman pliers should get the average person by. If you’re looking for a little more here’s the list of tools I keep in my truck:
- 6 in 1 screwdriver
- Extra drill bits
- Miscellaneous screws and fasteners
- Channel lock, needle nose, & slip joint pliers
- Needle Nose pliers
- Slip joint pliers
- Tape measure
- Socket set
- Jack + jumper cables
- Pry bar
- Zip ties
- Tire gauge
- Utility knife
- Speed square
Having paper maps of your hometown and anywhere else you visit is a great idea. The maps app on your phone is great but it drains your battery and relies on wifi. It gets pretty spooky when you take a few wrong turns and the maps app poops out because you’re too far in the woods to get a signal. For the city dwellers this isn’t as important, but a little book tucked in the glove box doesn’t hurt.
While most Zillennials don’t carry much cash, it’s a good idea to keep some in your vehicle. From a situation as dramatic as the country’s ATMs shutting down, to as weird as the McDonald’s card readers not working, cash can save your butt. I keep a $20 bill inside a sticky phone wallet stuck to the inside of my driver door.
Keeping some essential hygiene items in your vehicle can really come in handy and keep you and your passengers clean and safe. You never know when you could get an annoying hangnail or get stranded in traffic after a night of bad fish. I keep a pair of nail clippers and tweezers, a toothbrush, toothpicks, wet wipes, toilet paper and tampons in my truck for emergency situations.
While a rag isn’t at the necessity level of a first aid kit, this is definitely one of the most used items I keep in my truck. Having a shop rag or roll of paper towels at a comfortable arms reach can save yourself and your vehicle from the disasters of a dried spilled coffee or Chick-Fil-A sauce.
With all this being said, it all depends on what you do. You may not find it necessary to keep all of this in your vehicle and depending on what you drive, you may not have room for all of it. I’ve used all of these items and I don’t see any of it being unnecessary in my life, but it completely depends on you.
What are your car essentials? Let us know if you try any of these suggestions out in the comment section below!