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What do you keep in your car — a flashlight, a first aid kit? If you’re at all like me, the only things to be found in your car are things that would be… worthless in the event of an emergency, but if anyone needs a pair of shoes, a lawn chair, or a coffee cup, I’ve got you covered. Sure, we all have cell phones to call for help, but cell phone batteries die, and you just might be unlucky enough to break down in an area of no service.

Don’t get caught on the side of the road unprepared. Keep a few basic things in your vehicle (in your trunk, or in a small waterproof duffel bag) just in case:

  • Blankets. The weather will soon grow cold, and mylar blankets can keep you warm in a blizzard; they’re also good for warming up an always-cold passenger while you’re blasting the AC come summertime.
  • A spare tire. Most modern cars come standard with a limited-use spare, but it’s a good idea to purchase an extra full-size tire; inspect it a few times a year — how awful would it be to attempt to fix a flat only to find out that your spare is also flat?
  • Jumper cables. It’s happened to everyone once. You leave the lights on overnight, and come out in the morning to a dead battery. Jumper cables and an emergency battery booster will get you started and on the road quickly.
  • Duct tape. Enough said.
  • Contact information for your mechanic. Again, don’t depend on your cell phone. Next time you go in for an oil change, grab a business card or two, and stick it in your glove box or console for a rainy day.
  • First aid kit.
  • Flashlight.
  • Road flares. These will ensure other drivers see that you’re stopped at night, and will alert law enforcement and other first responders of your presence, and your need for help.
  • Protein bars or MREs. Remember the snowpocalypse? People were trapped in their cars for hours with no way to get home, and limited access to food. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen to you, but if it does, you won’t go hungry with a stash of protein bars.
  • Bottled water.
  • Maps. On paper. Yes, we mean it. That cell phone might die.
  • An umbrella.
  • Change for tolls. Did you know there are some states that only accept correct change, and then tack additional fees onto a bill they’ll send to your home? I learned that one the hard way; always carry spare change.

What items do you keep in your car that we left off our list?

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