by Florence Murray

Car crashes happen every day. The U.S Department of Transportation and National Highway Safety Administration reported 42,925 fatalities in the U.S. in 2021, compared to 33,782 in 2012. Theoretically, vehicle mortalities should decrease based on the increase of safely-built cars flooding the U.S. market every year. Even cautious drivers who follow speed limits and limit distractions could be in a crash. Since it is impossible to account for other drivers, carrying a roadside emergency kit is responsible.

No one can predict emergencies or traffic. Whether it’s an adventure across the country or a trip to the nearest convenience store, it is always best to be ready. Preparing for an emergency is especially imperative for those driving through an area of steep terrain or winter weather. For example, in January of 2022, a foot of snow was dumped on Interstate 95, stranding many drivers for over a day. Drivers who were prepared had snacks, blankets and water to sustain them until the roads were cleared and they could get to safety.

Below is a list of items the National Safety Council recommends everyone keep in their car:
»Spare tire, wheel wrench and jack
»Jumper cables and instructions
»Paper road maps or downloaded digital maps
»Multipurpose tools »Reflective triangles or flares
»Car charger
»Food, non-perishables
»Flashlight and batteries
»First aid kit
»Fire extinguisher
»Duct tape

Passengers are another critical consideration when deciding what to include in the emergency kit. For example, those who often travel with their dog may need to pack extra food, water, a leash and toys. It is wise for parents to carry snacks, diapers, bottles, etc.

While COVID infections have subsided, sanitizing is always a good practice. Additional items could include disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer and extra masks. Those who are not accustomed to winter weather may benefit from adding an ice scraper, raincoat, extra gloves, snow boots and a hat. Places like Lowes, Menards and Home Depot offer pre-made kits that provide the essentials to make things convenient.

Accidents and other emergencies can throw a wrench into any plan. Careful drivers can take it a step further by keeping items in their vehicles to prepare for when the unpredictable happens. These items can be anything from tools to minor repairs to water and snacks in case the driver is stranded