Essential Items to Keep in Your Car
"It’s important to be proactive and have some sort of 'emergency kit' "
Modern cars are much safer than the models our parents or grandparents drove. The new technologies that have been incorporated not only reduce the risk of accidents, but also alert us to possible mechanical, electrical or electronic problems that the car may have. However, cars are still not fool proof, which is why it’s important to be proactive and have some sort of 'emergency kit' that allows us to change a tire or jump-start the battery or put out a small fire.
What to keep in your car to get yourself out of trouble on the road
- Documentation. You should always carry your driver’s license, the vehicle’s logbook and the vehicle registration document, as well as your car insurance.
- Two duly certified portable warning devices. In your car, you should always carry two warning triangles that you can place in front of and behind the vehicle to signal your presence if you are forced to make an emergency stop on the side of the road.
"Carry the vest in the passenger compartment"
- Certified high-visibility reflective vest. Carry the vest in the passenger compartment, not in the boot of the car, so you can put it on before getting out of the vehicle to avoid unnecessary risks. Importantly, you should avoid placing your vest on the back of the seat because the sun could cause the reflective strips to fade.
- Spare tire or tire puncture repair kit. Ideally, you should have a tire that is similar to the ones your car normally uses so that, in the event of a flat tire, you can change it and continue on your way as usual. Another alternative are donuts, which are smaller and more compact tires, allowing you to travel an additional 200 kilometres more or less, but without going over 80 km/h. You can also carry a tire puncture repair kit, but make sure it’s not expired, since they typically expire 4 years after their date of manufacture.
- Tool kit. You don’t have to turn your car into a mechanic’s workshop, but you should at least carry a hydraulic jack in the boot that allows you to change the tire, some pliers to apply force, a set of Allen wrenches, a spanner and a medium-sized star screwdriver and another flat one in case you need to screw in anything that’s become loose. An emergency hammer with a Stanley knife may also come in handy if you have to break the windows in the event of an accident or cut the seat belt if it gets stuck.
- Jumper cables. If you have jumper cables on hand, you won’t be left stranded on the side of the road if the battery goes dead. If you want to go one step further, carry a portable battery with you so that you can jump-start the car on your own.
"Can be used for many purposes"
- Tape. Another essential item to carry in your car is adhesive tape, which can be used for many purposes, such as holding your rear-view mirror in place or preventing the bumper from detaching after a crash. You can even use it to temporarily patch a broken nozzle or to replace a lost cap.
- Flashlight. This will be very useful if your car breaks down in the middle of the night or you need to see what’s going on under the hood. It will also help you find “lost” items in the boot. Ideally, it is best to keep a rechargeable LED flashlight in your car.
- Work gloves. If your car breaks down, you’d better have some work gloves on. Not only will they help you avoid getting your hands dirty, but they’ll also give you a better grip when working on the car and can even prevent dangerous cuts and injuries.
- Mobile phone and charger. Although your phone is probably with you at all times, in the car you should also have a charger in order to avoid running out of battery when you need it most. You can find chargers at very competitive prices with enough capacity to charge several devices at the same time.
"Having a first aid kit can be vital"
- First aid kid. If there’s an emergency, having a first aid kit can be vital in preventing bleeding or an infection. The kit should contain single-use gloves, plasters, bandages, tweezers, scissors, alcohol, iodine, a thermal blanket, and a band to make a tourniquet. And make sure the products aren’t expired.
- Water container. Carrying a small three-litre plastic jug is all you need. You can use it to fill the windshield washer fluid tank, if you need to clean something or to wash your hands. It will also be very useful if you run out of fuel, since you can fill it up at the nearest petrol station.
- Certified fire extinguisher. The chances of a fire starting with modern cars is low, but if a flammable material comes in contact with heat, combustion can occur. To prevent the fire from escalating, a small extinguisher will be more than enough. There are models that weigh 1 kg and are very practical to keep in your car.
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