Survival Skills: 10 Items to Keep in Your Car or Truck for Emergencies

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Many of us take extra steps to equip our vehicles for roadside emergencies during winter, but vehicle breakdowns and emergency situations can happen any time of the year. If you neglected to outfit your ride with essential survival gear over the winter, quit tempting fate and add the following supplies ASAP.

1. Phone charger
What a shame it would be to not be able to make a call for help because your cell phone battery is dead. In addition to a charger that plugs into the 12V power supply, carry one that runs on AA batteries, a portable power bank, or even a small solar panel, too.

2. Water
Safe drinking water is a critical item in your vehicle in any climate or season, but stock up with extra if you plan to drive through an arid region. If you have the room, a minimum of three gallons is ideal to cover both thirsty people and low engine coolant.

3. Lights
It can get dark under a hood when you’re inspecting a kaput engine, especially once the sun goes down. Headlamps and flashlights give you the light you need to work, to feel more secure, and to signal for help. Bring extra batteries for them.

4. Flares
Like the lights, flares can be used as a means to signal distress on the roadside. They’re pretty good in a pinch as fire starters, too, particularly in wet weather.

5. Jumper cables
I shouldn’t even have to include this here, but I’m going to anyway.

6. Tow strap
A nylon tow strap (and another vehicle) can get your car or truck out of a ditch, a snow bank, or a swamp. Select a heavy strap with NO METAL PARTS. A tow chain or a strap with metal hooks on the end can kill someone if it breaks while under tension.

7. First aid
Sometimes the vehicle needs a repair, and sometimes a passenger needs to be patched up.

8. Full-size spare, tire iron, and jack
Don’t settle for a dinky little emergency tire. And don’t expect all new cars to even have a spare (seriously, some don’t). Get a full-size spare tire for your vehicle, and include it when rotating your tires for better wear. Make sure to have a tire iron and a jack to swap out a flat.

9. Blankets and/or sleeping bags
You should have one of these for each seat in your vehicle, in the event of you have to spend the night in it.

10. Food
Although food is low on the priority list, its ability to maintain morale can’t be overlooked. Plus, it’s the only way to keep your energy up for the tasks of survival. Keep non-perishable foods in your vehicle, preferably ones that don’t require any cooking or preparation. Rotate these foods often (monthly or bi-monthly) during warmer weather so you always have fresh, safe food on hand.

What are some essentials you keep in your vehicle? Please tell us in the comments.