Ah, spring… the months when you start thinking about summer road trips and long weekends. Where will you go this year? Previously unexplored rivers and streams? Camping in the mountains? Snorkling on the shore?
Wherever you go, be prepared in case of an accident by keeping these things in your car when you travel. They could save your time, your sanity, or even your life.
What to do in case of an car accident: Put together your emergency toolkit
- Auto escape tool (such as a LifeHammer): if your car is submerged in water, this tool has two small steel tips designed to break a window with one or two blows, and a sharp blade to slice through seatbelts.
- Blanket and/or towel: in addition to being just generally useful for picnics and cool nights under the stars, a blanket can be lifesaving in case of an injury or hypothermia, can be doused in water to smother fire, etc. Towels are similarly useful in both mundane and emergency situations.
- Disposable camera: in case your cell phone dies or is broken in an accident, keeping a disposable camera with you can help you memorialize the conditions of the area, vehicles and passengers if you are involved in an accident.
- Cash: a small stash of cash somewhere in the car (like a $20 under the floor mat) can make it easier to get home from the scene of an accident if you need to take a taxi or public transportation.
- Fire extinguisher: especially if you drive an older car prone to overheating, a fire extinguisher is great to have around.
- Well-stocked first-aid kit: this should contain antiseptic, cleanser and ointment packets, bandages (Dermabond skin repairing glue is a nice addition, too), scissors, tweezers, gauze, Ace-type wrap bandage, instant cold packs, latex gloves, and a first-aid guide, as well as some basic over-the-counter medications (anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen, antihistamines like Benadryl, an Epi-Pen, aspirin, etc.).
- Flashlight, headlamp: a simple, inexpensive wind-up flashlight is dependable, reliable, and ensures you'll never have to worry about dead batteries. A headlamp can also come in very handy.
- Insurance papers: you should keep your car registration and insurance information, a copy of your health insurance card, and a copy of your AAA or other motorclub card if applicable.
- Jumper cables: you can buy compact, coiled cables that come neatly stashed in their own bag (with included directions).
- Fix-a-flat: keeping this small can in your car can fix and seal small holes in tires when replacing them on the road isn’t possible.
- Food: keeping nutritious, non-perishable items like crackers, dried fruit, peanut butter, energy bars and even MREs (army rations) can save your life in an emergency (or your sanity in a very long wait for a towtruck).
- Maps: especially if you’re going to a place with undependable cellular service, having a paper map is a good idea.
- Pencil/pens and notepad: useful to take down another driver’s information in an accident, or for writing down instructions from 911 or directions.
- List of emergency numbers (written): it’s a good idea to keep a list of emergency contact numbers in your glovebox or car, in case of an emergency where your phone is inaccessible or inoperable or you are incapacitated.
- Small shovel (like a folding model): these are useful in all seasons to dig out cars from the elements, aside from being generally handy.
- Leatherman or other multi-functional tool: keeping a multitool in your vehicle means that you’re always prepared with basic tools like pliers, a screwdriver, a pocketknife, etc. in case of emergency.
- Rope, duct tape: these are useful for basic vehicle repairs, rescues, and quick fixes.
- Warning light, road flares, or reflective triangle: if you're in an accident, especially at night, it’s vital to make yourself more visible to rescue personnel and other drivers.
- Water: a jug full of potable water is essential for hydration, first aid, and in case of engine overheating.
- Whistle: if your car is disabled somewhere that you can't be seen, at least make yourself heard with this small and simple addition.
- Book and/or cards: if you’re stranded for a while after an accident, a book or deck of cards can help you and your passengers pass the time until help arrives.
- Socks, gloves, and chemical hand warmers: many locations get very cold at night, even in summer. If you are in an accident and become stranded, these can help you survive.
- Candle: in addition to providing light, a candle gives off enough heat to provide some warmth in a cold car (particularly if you use these tips).
- Tarp: useful for rigging up a tent or shelter from the rain.
- Matches, lighter: if you need to start a fire for warmth or signaling, or want to light that candle, you'll need something to do so.
- Toilet paper/baby wipes: their usefulness can’t be underestimated, both for personal hygiene and for first aid.
Wherever you go, use caution and let someone back home know your travel plans. Download our FREE guide -- "What to do After Being in an Accident" -- by clicking the link below so you'll know what to do just in case.
If you are injured in an accident despite your best safety efforts, the New Jersey auto accident attorneys at The Mark Law Firm can help. One of our experienced new jersey personal injury lawyers will be happy to evaluate your personal injury lawsuit - at no charge to you! Contact us to schedule a FREE personal injury consultation with one of our experienced Oradell, Newark and Basking Ridge personal injury lawyers.