4 Roadside Emergency Must-Haves

Sometimes it takes an emergency to realize how ill-prepared you are. Don't let that happen to you. Include these four roadside emergency items on your to-do list to help ensure you get home safely.

1. Update your emergency contact numbers.

You need more than just one emergency number in your cell phone. Program these emergency contact numbers into your cell phone. This will make sure you can call for help when you need it.

  • Home phone – listed under contact name, "home"
  • Spouse or partner – listed as "spouse/partner/husband/wife"
  • Employer – to let them know you'll be late/absent
  • Tow truck – include both 800 number and local number
  • Fire/police – for use when 911 call isn't necessarily warranted
  • Neighbor – to ask to perform task in your absence, such as picking up your kids from school
  • School – to authorize your friend/neighbor to pick up your child

Programming double entries if necessary under obvious contact names like "home" or "son/daughter" makes it easier for first responders to make the appropriate calls for you in case you're incapacitated.

2. Stock food and water.

You don't have to stash food in your car like you're expecting a zombie apocalypse, but you should have enough food and water to sustain two people for 24 hours. Choose foods that require no preparation, need no tools to open, and that have a long shelf life. Good options include:

  • Granola and protein bars
  • Chocolate bars
  • Trail mix
  • Raisins
  • Packaged nuts and seeds
  • Turkey or beef jerky
  • Canned soda (for fast energy)
  • Bottled water in individual serving sizes

To store, consider keeping a small cooler in your trunk dedicated to food and water supplies.

3. Make a mini toolbox.

Buy yourself a small toolbox to keep in your car. Include the usual items, like a hammer and a variety of screwdrivers. If a skilled good Samaritan stops to fix your car, you'll have the tools on hand for them to use.

4. Store some creature comforts.

Keep an extra coat, mittens, hat and scarf in your car. The extra layer of warmth if you're stranded on a snowy winter's night may save your life. Keep a blanket in the back as well. It can double as a means to provide traction if your tires get stuck in snow or on ice.

If you take care of this checklist now, you'll feel safer every time you get behind the wheel of your car this winter.