May 13, 2021

Essential and Practical Items to Keep in Your Car

By Joyce Venezia Suss

A car is primarily for transportation, but it’s often a place where you spend a lot of time: waiting for a sports practice to end, heading to the grocery store, taking a family vacation, and more. During an emergency like a sudden blizzard or a road closure that lasts hours, your car is also a safe haven.

To make life easier on a daily basis, and safer during emergencies, add these essentials to your vehicle, whether in the glove compartment, door pockets or trunk.

Small trash bags are handy in every row, especially during a road trip. Hang them from the back of a head rest, or place a flat-bottomed brown bag on the floor, lined with layers of recycled paper to absorb greasy or leaky food containers.

A non-bulky foldable blanket or disposable foil blankets for emergencies provide warm comfort when passengers feel a chill or take a nap.

If your young children gravitate toward puddles and dirt mounds, keep some extra clothing in the car.

A container of disposable baby wipes cleans dirty hands and spills among passengers of all ages. A box of tissues and roll of paper towels are also useful.

For commuters who eat breakfast in the car on their way to work, an apron or a small towel for your lap protects clothes from falling food and dripping coffee cups.

Store some money in small bills and change, for parking meters and unexpected tolls that don’t take EZ Pass.

Many states now ban plastic bags for groceries. Invest in reusable shopping bags, and after emptying them at home, leave them next to your car keys so they end up back in the vehicle.

A supply of snacks with a long shelf life, such as granola bars, dried fruits and nuts, could be a lifesaver if stranded in a storm or traffic jam. Never leave without a bottle of water for every passenger.

Similarly, be ready for unexpected delays by keeping a spare cell phone charger in the car.

An extra pair of shoes is handy if you accidentally step in a puddle and can’t get home right away.

Seasonal additions include a warm hat, spare gloves, ice scraper and small shovel during cold weather; come summer, replace those items with a brimmed hat, sunscreen and insect repellent.

Add a small first aid kit – and be sure to restock it when needed.

Disposable rain ponchos are inexpensive and useful during surprise rainstorms.

For all kinds of emergencies, get a multi-tool pocketknife, a roll of multi-purpose duct tape, and a flashlight, with batteries stored separately.

City drivers who battle potholes might get good (and frequent) use from a portable tire pump that plugs into the cigarette lighter.

For peace of mind, add a car emergency escape tool. One end has a seat belt cutter; the other end has a sharp window breaker tool in case the doors are jammed. Just be sure to keep the tool in the door pocket or glove compartment, not the trunk.