Emergency Kit | Shelter Insurance®

Safety First: 12 Things Every Car Should Have


Unless you work from home or live in really big city like Chicago or New York, driving a car is an integral part of your day-to-day activities. Knowing how to take care of yourself, your car and those around you in case of an emergency is vital. Just like having your registration and proof of insurance in the car at all times, make sure your car safety kit includes these 12 items:

Jumper Cables
Many people assume they’ll be able to flag someone down who has them. It’s best to be that someone with jumper cables instead of taking a chance on whether someone else will have them. Just make sure  you know how to use them. (Check out the link below to find out how.)

First Aid Kit
You should always have a first aid kit in places where you spend the most time; your car is no exception.

Flashlight (with Additional Batteries)
Don’t always depend on your phone or car lights to guide you in the dark.

Bottled Water and Non-Perishable Snacks
If you’re stranded in the middle of nowhere, waiting for help can take a while. Having something to eat and drink while you wait can be a literal lifesaver.

Blankets or Extra Clothes and Shoes
If you have to make a minor repair on the side of the road, for example changing your tire or drying off after being caught outside in a downpour, these items are essential.

Multipurpose Tool
A small wrench and socket set, plus a pair of pliers will do for most tasks. Throw in a few screwdrivers, some electrical orduct tape, a tire pressure gauge and some spare fuses and you're set for even more.

Ice Scraper
These depend on the area or season, but they can also be helpful if something ends up on your windshield that your wipers can’t reach.

Motor Oil, Windshield Wiper Fluid and Coolant
Older cars use more oil so it’s imperative to check your oil level regularly. Keeping extra vehicle fluids in the car can serve as a quick fix for issues like your car overheating.  Make sure you know what they’re for and where they go.

Paper Towels or Rags
Messes can happen anywhere.

Bungee Cords and a Tarp
If you’ve ever had to transport a bed using a sedan or bought something that doesn't quite fit into your vehicle perfectly, you know exactly how important these items can be to keep the new item on board and protected.

Map or Road Atlas
Sometimes technology fails; don’t end up lost if or when it does.

Spare Tire, Tire Iron and Jack
These are especially useful if you need to change a tire. From the Dummies brand, here are step-by-step instructions on how  to change a tire as well as jump start your car. (You can find detailed steps and video tutorials online.)

Changing a Tire

  1. Secure the vehicle so that it won't roll; and roll the spare tire to the scene of the action.
  2. Pry off the wheel cover.
  3. Loosen the lug nuts.
  4. Jack up the vehicle about 6 inches off the ground.
  5. Remove the flat tire.
  6. Lift the spare onto the lug bolts.
  7. Replace the lug nuts and tighten them by hand.
  8. Lower the vehicle and tighten the lug nuts.
  9. Replace the wheel cover or hubcap.

Jump-Starting a Car

  1. Take out your jumper cables.
  2. Place both vehicles in Park or Neutral and shut off the ignition in both cars.
  3. Attach one of the red clips to the positive terminal of your battery.
  4. Attach the other red clip to the positive terminal of the other car.
  5. Attach one of the black clips to the negative terminal on the other battery.
  6. Attach the last black clip to an unpainted metal surface on your car that isn’t near the battery.
  7. Start the working vehicle and let the engine run for a few minutes.
  8. Try to start your vehicle.

Keep these items in a bin in your trunk and you’ll always be prepared. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

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