Ask an Expert // 7 Things to Keep in Your Car


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Don’t get caught unprepared on the road. Stock your car with these seven things to ready yourself for any emergency.

We spend a lot of time in our vehicles, whether we’re driving to work, the grocery store, soccer practice or a family vacation.  Its been estimated that the average American spends 101 minutes per day driving. (Harvard Health Watch 2016)   With that much time in the car, it makes sense that we may have unanticipated issues, including mechanical trouble, a flat tire, weather problems, a car accident, or being first on the scene of any type of accident. Here are seven items to always keep in your car in case of an emergency.

  1. Water- Make sure you have sufficient water for 24 hours for all occupants of the vehicle. A good rule of thumb is 2 liters of water per person.  Water filtration devices are also useful and great for emergency kits.
  2. High Calorie Snacks- While-high calorie snacks are not usually what is recommended in case of extreme weather (heat or cold), they are best suited for emergencies like being stranded or needing to walk to get help. There are many high-calorie snack options, including S.O.S. 3600 calorie bars.
  3. Basic First Aid Kit- There are many inexpensive first aid kits readily available. However, often these kits don’t include some extremely important items.  In addition to the standard Neosporin and Band-Aids, be sure that your first aid kit includes: Neoprene/nitrile gloves, ibuprofen, sufficient ace bandages to wrap a limb, and at least one Mylar survival blanket.
  4. Fire-starter Kit- This can be as simple as a few lighters and some paper, or as elaborate as you would like. A small candle in a can is helpful during the winter and can be used as a source of light.  Just be sure to always have supplies for at least two methods of starting a fire.
  5. Flashlight- Keep a good flashlight or headlamp with extra batteries in your car. Be sure to check the batteries regularly.
  6. Blankets- This is in addition to the Mylar blankets included in your first aid kit. Mylar blankets are an excellent source for shelter or to retain body heat in an emergency.  However, the comfort of a real blanket can be particularly soothing to children during an emergency or for the victims of an automobile accident.
  7. Toilet Paper – It never fails that someone will need to use the rest room as soon as the facilities are unavailable. Toilet paper will add some comfort to an otherwise uncomfortable situation.

Now (as with all preparation) please take into account your typical number of passengers. If you have six children you will obviously need to prepare differently than for a single individual.

Elizabeth Davis is the Utah State University Extension Family and Consumer Sciences Assistant Professor for Kane County. Questions or comments may be sent to 

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