By Carter Jung

Whether you’re heading out on a last-minute summer vacation or commuting to work, safety should always be a priority. There are a few tried and true items that should always be kept in your car, including:

Jumper Cables – Things often go wrong with car batteries when you least expect it. Whether it’s from a light accidentally left on or a battery that’s reached the end of its life, a low car battery is a common reason a driver will get stuck. Thankfully, a set of jumper cables, another vehicle and a second driver willing to help can quickly remedy that. If the battery was discharged, keep the engine running for at least 15 minutes to allow the alternator to recharge it. If the battery is old and/or not holding a charge, it’s time to replace it.

Flashlight – Although most smartphones come equipped with a flashlight function, keep a dedicated flashlight in the trunk of your car. Traditional flashlights are brighter, more durable, and will free your phone to be an open line of communication.

Triangle Reflector – In the event you need to pull over, reflectors will help alert other drivers to your vehicle’s presence, especially after dusk. Whenever possible, exit a highway before pulling to the side. Once your vehicle is parked as safely off the road as possible, it’s recommended to set up three triangle reflectors around of your vehicle: one 10-feet behind, another 100-feet behind, and one 100-feet in front. Exercise extreme caution when walking on the shoulder of a road.

Spare Tire – Although most automobiles come equipped with a spare tire, inspect it annually ensuring that it is properly inflated, free of cracks, has proper tread depth, and is in good working order. If the spare tire, or any tire for that matter, hasn’t been replaced in the past 10 years, it is best to do so. While you’re at it, make sure you have the necessary tools to change out a tire, just in case.

Self-Fusing Silicone Repair Tape – From cracked radiator hoses spewing coolant to exposed electrical wiring, self-fusing silicone repair tape can often create a temporary water-tight seal to get you off the side of the road.

Gloves – Whether it’s changing a blown-out tire or working in a hot engine bay, a good pair of work gloves will help keep your hands safe.

First Aid Kit – A small first aid kit can help with small accidents that come from working on a car to provide temporary relief before the professionals arrive. 

Distilled water – From emergency drinking water to topping off your car’s radiator, storing an unopened gallon of water in the trunk can come in very handy. Secure the gallon of water in your trunk.

Fire Extinguisher – Automotive fires rarely happen, but when they do, they can quickly escalate. A fire extinguisher can help prevent that. When purchasing one, make sure it is rated for Class B and C, good for flammable liquids and electrical fires, respectively. Be sure to also store the fire extinguisher securely in your vehicle.

Blanket – A blanket can provide warmth should you ever get stuck in the cold or insulate you from the heat of the sun-soaked asphalt while working on your car.

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