Every day, all around the country, there are hundreds of car-related issues – breakdowns, crashes and lengthy traffic jams among the most common. While a lot of these incidents are unavoidable, you can make sure that your response is well thought out by preparing yourself and your vehicle for the unexpected. There are some absolute essentials that everyone should always have in their cars – here is our guide to the basics:
First Aid Kit
Every vehicle should have a first aid kit ready for use. It doesn’t have to be a huge, paramedic-style kit, a small first aid kit for cars that fits in your glove box or slides easily under a seat will often be sufficient. Make sure that it is stocked up with the basics – gauze, bandage, plasters, painkillers, disinfectant, etc – and that it is readily accessible.
Water and Food
One of the worst parts of being stranded after breaking down or sitting in a traffic jam for hours on end is that you will inevitably get hungry and thirsty. Stave off these feelings (and remain focused and attentive) by keeping some food and drink in your vehicle. It doesn’t have to be a three-course meal or anything – a couple of breakfast bars or some biscuits will usually suffice for the food, and a bottle of water for fluids. Make sure that you have enough for everyone if you are travelling with a group.
Getting stuck in the cold without access to your car’s heater can cause hypothermia and other related health issues. These risks can be prevented and/or minimised, by keeping some blankets in your car. Just like with food and drink – make sure that there is enough to go round if you have passengers on board.
Punctured tyres are a fairly common issue, and one that most people would be able to tackle themselves (without waiting for roadside assistance companies to turn up) if they carried a jack in their vehicle. A trolley jack, specifically, is a type of hydraulic car jack that almost resembles a heavy-duty skateboard, with a long handle. The jack is wheeled into place beneath the car, the handle is cranked and the car is lifted. Try to find a compact version and this essential tool won’t take up too much space in your vehicle.
In the event that you break down and need to call for help, you’ll want to make sure that your phone is fully charged and ready to go. An external or portable power bank can be used with a range of different devices and is a great thing to keep in your vehicle to ensure that you can get assistance, inform friend/family/colleagues of what is going on, and use the map features if necessary.
Breaking down at night time comes with its own set of risks and issues – many of which can be mitigated by keeping a good quality torch in your car. Need to get equipment from the boot? Changing your tyre? Abandoning your vehicle and making for the nearest point of safety? Your torch will let you see where you are going, avoiding any nasty trips or falls, as well as let any other road users see you easily.