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What to Keep in Your Car for Emergencies

Whether you are a frequent road tripper or occasional traveler, it is a good idea to keep certain items in your car in case of an emergency situation.

Basic items
Since you probably already have your cell phone on you, make sure you keep a charger that plugs into the cigarette lighter or another power point in your car on hand. Maybe you can store it in the glove compartment so you know where to find it.

It is important to have a well-stocked first-aid kit somewhere in your car. Here are the American Red Cross-suggested components of a first aid kit for a family of four. Make sure you include extra doses of any necessary medications. Also keep a waterproof flashlight in your car, along with some extra batteries.

Water and nonperishable foods like granola bars and protein bars should be kept in your car in case you get stranded.

Consumer Reports recommends keeping a 1A10BC or 2A10BC multipurpose fire extinguisher that can be used to quell small fires that have just erupted in your car. Jumper cables and extra fuses are other items that should be kept in your car in case of an emergency. 

In case your car breaks down
It is important to have a warning light, reflective hazard triangles or flares that you can set off to alert other motorists that you are in trouble.

Chris Hayes, the director of transportation services for Travelers' risk control department, suggests keeping two or three reflective triangles in your car, as he says they are easier to deploy than the roadside flares. If your car breaks down, place one triangle 10 feet behind your vehicle and then the next 100 feet behind.

"Remember to hold the triangles in front of you as you walk to help stay visible to oncoming traffic," he advises.

Hayes also says to keep a copy of your insurance along with the contact numbers of your insurance carrier or agent in your car.

It is good to have foam tire sealant on hand for minor punctures. Keep a tire-pressure gauge in your car, and periodically use it to make sure your spare tire isn't also flat. You should also make sure you have everything you need to change a tire at your disposal. This includes a jack and a lug nut wrench or tire iron. Your vehicle may already come with these items, so check your owner's manual to find out where they are located. 

For winter weather
Snow and ice mean dangerous roads, so you should keep some additional items in your car during the winter months. Have a sets of winter gloves and hats on hand. It is a good idea to keep blankets or even sleeping bags in your car. A windshield scraper and shovel will also come in handy, even if you just need to dig your way out of a parking spot or clear some snow from your window. Esurance.com also recommends keeping cat litter in your car, as the pebbly material can be used to create traction. Sand will also serve a similar function.

Hayes suggests having a long-burning candle in a tin coffee can to help generate light and heat. Keep a set of matches in a waterproof container with it.