- Spare tire. It seems silly to include this—don't most cars just come with one?—but if you've used yours recently then it's worth making sure it's back where it belongs before you hit the road again. Be sure to check the pressure and condition of your spare tire just as you would all of your other ones.
- Fix-a-Flat. At less than $10 a can, this product can be a lifesaver if you have a slow leak. Just connect the small hose (included) to your tire; the rubber compound flows in to form a strong seal and your tire is temporarily re-inflated, all without using a jack or having to remove the wheel.
- Booster cables. It's often easier to boost your battery than it is to find a new one when you're stuck on the side of the road.
- Roadside assistance. If you don't want to pay an annual fee for a service you only rarely use, but don't want to be stuck without a safety net while you're driving far from home, check out Allstate's new Good Hands Roadside Assistance. It's a pay-as-you-use-it program with set fees for certain services—$50 for jump starts, retrieving keys that have been locked in the car, tire changes, and fuel delivery (up to three gallons) and $75 for basic towing (up to 10 miles, $3 per additional mile). You can sign up in advance (it works in all 50 states, but not in Puerto Rico) and you don't pay anything unless you need their help. You can find out more or register for the program by clicking this widget:
- Small tool kit. I prefer an all-in-one gadget like a classic Leatherman multi-tool, but if you have room for a small box, be sure to stock it with a wrench, a ratchet and sockets, a small hammer, pliers, electrical tape, and flat-head and Philips-head screwdrivers.
- Flashlight. Don't forget to keep it stocked with fresh batteries!
- Charger for your cell phone. In an emergency, one of the last things you want to deal with is a dying cell-phone battery. Consider a solar-powered charger, like the Solio Universal solar charger kit, which comes with adapters for popular smart phones.
- Small first aid kit. You don't have to bring a kit fit for a wilderness explorer, but some antibiotic ointment, alcohol pads, an ace bandage, sterile gauze, medical tape, a small pair of scissors, a couple of maxi pads, and a few adhesive bandages can help you handle a minor injury. (Why maxi pads? Because they're far more absorbent than plain gauze.)
- Duct tape. Duct tape always comes in handy.
- Plastic bags. Those ubiquitous grocery bags can be used for stashing wet clothes, lining a child-size beach bucket for use as a portable potty, covering your shoes in preparation for a wet walk, temporarily fixing a cracked window, and so much more. Bonus: Squished together, they hardly take up any space at all.
- Large towel. Use it for drying off in warm or wet weather, or as an emergency blanket during the winter.
- Tarp. Use it as a shelter during inclement weather. Use it as a ground cover, or as an impromptu raincoat. A shower curtain may do, in a pinch, though it's not as large or as durable as a tarp.
- Chemical hand warmers or ice packs, depending on the season. Available at most hardware stores, hand warmers activate when exposed to air and can be used to stave off frostbite in an emergency. When it's hot out, a chemical ice pack (squeeze it to break an interior seal and mix the two components together) can help prevent heat stroke in people and pets
- Water. For drinking, and for cooling down hot engines or cleaning off buggy windshields.
- Extra clothing. You don't need much—a T-shirt and a pair of sweatpants, plus fleece gloves/scarf/hat for those cold weather months.
What emergency materials do you keep in your car ?
This post was commissioned by Allstate; all opinions/reviews presented in it are my own.