No one likes the idea of being involved in an accident. Yet, the reality is that as long you own and drive a vehicle, there is always the possibility, however small we try to make it, of being in an accident someday. And with the shock and potential harm of being involved in a collision, you need to be prepared ahead of time so that you know what to do and have everything you need on-hand to do it. In the spirit of preparation, we have put together a short list of necessities for your car accident kit. It is by no means exhaustive, but these simple necessities can make all the difference in the world at a time when you’ll really need it.
Charged cell phone Smartphones are life savers. They are quite possibly one of the most useful devices to have with you during any unfortunate event you may experience. While everyone tends to keep their phones handy, a having a fully charged spare cell phone available at the ready can make the difference between saving lives and losing people. Many people aren’t aware of this but you can make 911 calls from a cell phone, even you don’t have a contract for it with a service provider. A cheap phone with a full charge will always be able to call out for emergency services as long as there is a cell tower of any kind nearby.
Fire extinguisher Fire extinguishers have saved millions of lives and should be included in your vehicle kit. The best practice for large and particularly dangerous fires is still to get clear of the car and call the fire department, but an extinguisher could keep a small fire from becoming an explosion risk. Your fire extinguisher should be effective for Class B (flammable liquids) and Class C (electrical fires.) These ratings are assigned by the National Fire Protection Agency and should be paid attention to as you shop for your kit.
First aid kit You can buy these kits pre-assembled and they will typically contain gauze, alcohol, aspirin, bandages, scissors, adhesive tapes, antiseptic wipes, etc. If you or your loved ones are on any important medications, it would be a good idea to keep a small supply in this kit as well. It’s nothing to perform surgery with, but it can keep the situation better controlled until help arrives.
Reflective warning triangles This can save you and other oncoming vehicles if you get in an accident at night. The average accident kit has just one. But we recommend that you have at least three that you would place 50 yards apart. These would help oncoming drivers see the warning signs long before they get to where you are. The last thing you want after one car accident is another.
Jumper cables These are great to keep in your trunk, whether you’re thinking about potential car accidents or not. If you end up stranded because your car suddenly lost power, they won’t fix your battery or alternator, but with a little help from a passer-by, they could at least get you off the side of the road.
Tire sealant Whether there has been an accident or not, anyone can end up with a flat tire at a moment’s notice. If this happens to you and there’s no spare tire, or you just can’t stop to change the tire because the place is dangerous, you can apply a foam tire sealant which will keep your tires running without peeling off and prevent you from running on your rims until you can get somewhere safer.
Waterproof flashlight and batteries If you’re planning ahead, and you are, you can’t count on your headlights or even interior lights being of any help in the event of an accident. If you run into trouble at night, you’ll be thankful you have a flashlight.
Rain poncho Let’s face it, accidents can happen at the oddest of times. In fact, studies have shown that drivers are five times more likely to skid off the road, rear end another vehicle or lose control during inclement weather. If this happens, and it’s raining, this can keep your or an injured person from being exposed to the elements.
Ice scraper for the windshield Winter can be fun. But when you’re getting a foot of snow in an hour, you’ll need something to scrape off the ice from your windshield. This tool will help you do that. Depending on the climate in your area, cold weather gear is also a good idea to have on hand. Gloves and a shovel are good to add for the same reason — you never know what’s going to happen, or what the weather will be like when it does.
Emergency Contact Information You should also keep an emergency contact card with information about who to call in case of emergency. In addition to next-of-kin, this should include your primary physician, employer, and the number of a personal injury lawyer. Any existing medical conditions or medications can also be helpful if you are unable to provide this to responding paramedics yourself — the same idea behind medical ID bracelets. This information may well be accessible from your cell phone, but if it is damaged or locked, or you are unable to speak or recall, emergency responders will be better able to assist you.
It is unfortunate, but accidents do happen. What happens next usually comes down to preparation. Do your part and be prepared.