What’s the best way to prepare to be safe on the road? If you ask a dozen different people you’ll get a dozen different answers. We asked family travel experts to share what they keep in their cars — whether they are driving through the desert, heading to an earthquake zone or just driving around town. Here’s what they had to say:
Always Keep Handy
Stock your car at all times with paper towels, toilet paper, Dramamine, granola bars, Band-Aids, Ziploc bags (for trash and vomit), a multi-purpose tool like a Leatherman or Swiss Army Knife, work gloves, wet wipes, duct tape, the car owner’s manual, cell phone charger, smartphone apps that will help you to find local things quickly, a towel and water bottles. Toss in a few tools and repair necessities, including jumper cables, a ratchet set, pliers, screwdriver, electrical tape, a can of emergency tire inflator, road flares, and automotive fuses. Finally, keep near the driver’s seat a hammer/seatbelt cutter in case you are in an accident and need to get out of the car fast.
Winter requires special tools, such as an ice scraper and snow brush, but for safety reason, be sure to also bring a blanket, extra mittens or gloves, and kitty litter to create traction when you get stuck on the ice. Keep the kitty litter in a sealed plastic container so it stays dry and doesn’t spill all over the car. If you’re planning a winter road trip, it’s also important to make sure you understand the differences among the various winter weather advisories issued by the National Weather Service. You might still be fine traveling under a winter weather advisory, but you might want to alter your plans if it’s a more serious winter storm watch or warning.
In the desert, gas, water, and fellow humans can be in short supply. So prepare for longer-term emergencies. Bring three gallons of water (enough for the people and the radiator), space blankets for each traveler, ‘Survival’ chocolate bars, tire patch kit, an air pump, solar charger for your phone, hiking boots or good walking shoes and socks and sunscreen.
If you’re traveling through earthquake country, bring along a small backpack filled with a blanket, jacket, duct tape, flares and three days’ worth of water and dried food.