Being stranded on the side of the road is never fun. But, when you know you have an emergency kit stashed in the trunk of your car, then the situation becomes less irritating and more bearable for you and any passengers you may have.
One of your first priorities should be maintaining your hydration. One probem with carrying water: it weighs 8 pounds per gallon and when you factor in the fact that each person in the car will need to drink about one gallon per day, that's a heavy load to haul around.
It's easier to fit water in smaller containers, or to pack refillable water bottles. When empty, they won't add any unnecessary weight, and you can fill them up if you think you'll be driving a long way. Don't forget to pack water purification tablets, as well. These are chlorine-based tablets that you find in camping stores that will kill waterborne organisms and germs if you need to fill your water bottle from a lake or stream.
Keep a warm blanket tucked in the back of your car. A wool blanket works well, even if it's damp. You can also use an emergency blanket (or a space blanket) it's a metal-coated plastic sheet normally used by marathoners to keep themselves warm after a race, but it can also keep you warm in emergencies. Chemical heat packs react with air and can add warmth inside a blanket, and you can start and stop them for up to 15 hours.
Be sure to pack a flashlight, glow sticks, matches, and emergency candles. Try to go for rechargeable flashlights that park in your car's 12-volt outlet. To keep yourself dry, don't forget to bring along a waterproof poncho with a hood, and a plastic whistle so you can use it instead of spending energy calling out for help.
Bring a solar and hand-crank-powered light/cellphone/radio charger. Buy one that you can depend on--don't just buy any old cheap charger. If you can afford it, buy an emergency cellphone, as well, and keep it charged.
Always pack a change of clothes and a good winter hat, and small tarp in case you need temporary shelter.
It's always smart to keep a first-aid kit in the car. Get the best and most thorough one you can afford. You never know when you'll need more bandages or pain relievers.
Other things your safety supplies should include:
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