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You never know when you will be driving and your car will decide that it’s time to break down. If this happens, especially while driving on a lonely road, it can be frustrating and dangerous. The following is a list of items that you should always have in your car. It would be a good idea to keep a box in your trunk just for these items. If you find yourself in this kind of situation, you will have everything that you need in one place. Check the items at least every two months in case that you need to replace batteries or anything else.

Blanket (in case it gets too cold)
Spare tire in good condition and a jack
Extra gas in proper gas container
Booster cable
Set of small tools (sockets, pliers, lug wrench)
Charged cellular telephone
Paper towels
Raincoat or umbrella
Water for drinking and/or for engine
Working flashlight
Non-perishable foods like chips and pretzels
Motor oil, transmission oil, and break fluid - If you develop a slight leak, you can add enough to get you to a safe area or the nearest station. (If you don’t know where or how to properly refill, have someone teach you the proper place and/or way to do this.)
Flares - For alerting other drivers of your stalled car, this can prevent many accidents from happening.
Windshield wiper fluid - During the winter months your car will get splashed with salted water from the streets, this can cause your windshield to become blurry to the point of not having any visibility. This coating of salt water cannot be removed without windshield wiper fluid.

Should you find yourself in this situation, the first thing to do is to call for help, i.e. police, tow truck, or emergency road service club if you belong to one. You should also call a family member to let them know of your situation. Next, if the problem is something that you can take care of like changing a tire, (which you should know how to do, if you don’t know make it a point to have someone teach you how to do it), adding antifreeze if your engine is too hot, or adding gas if you ran out, do it and you can be on your way. If this is the case remember to call the persons that you spoke to and let them know that everything is okay. Even if it’s a minor problem always call for help, you have to alert someone of where you are, you never know what can happen while you are checking the car. It is always better to be safe than sorry, therefore, someone needs to know of your location.

If, on the other hand, the problem is not something that you can take care of yourself, take a look at your surroundings to see what type of area you have been stranded on. If there is a public restaurant, a coffee shop, or a store nearby that you can go in to wait until help arrives, then that would be your best bet. Lock your car, raise the hood, and make sure that you take your cellular phone with you at all times. If there are no visible safe public places around and depending on how you have assessed the location, you can wait inside the car, get anything you need from your emergency box, lock the doors and wait inside the car.

If this ever happens to you, you will be thankful that you decided to be prepared. The kit that you put together will be a great help in keeping you comfortable from the cold, the rain if you must be outside the car or have to walk somewhere, from hunger, and especially from being in an area with no public telephones.

Most people are not prepared for this and the experience can be very frustrating. You may not be able to avoid car breakdowns but you can make the situation a lot less stressful if you have the basic emergency needs. Also, if you have children and travel with them often you may want to add a few things to make their wait less uncomfortable. Having chips and/or pretzels for children to munch on will help to keep them at ease. Adding a couple of toys or a favorite book will keep them distracted while waiting for help to arrive. Don’t get caught unprepared.