Winter is coming. Time to get your car boot in order.
Life can be thrillingly unpredictable, but so can your car. As you set out on a journey you’ve made countless times before, you don’t expect to break down, have an accident or become stranded. But it happens. As we head into the winter months, now is a good time to make sure you’re prepared for anything. Here’s a list of items that could help get you back on the road as quickly as possible, and maybe even save your life.
1. Fuel can
If your tank has ever run dry and you’ve found yourself miles from the nearest petrol station, you’ll know just how handy a fuel can is when you have to make that long, lonely trek to the garage. Just remember, it must be empty. Driving anywhere with a can of fuel in your car is a fire hazard.
2. Hi-vis vest
This is something that many drivers don’t think about, but a high-vis vest is a must, especially in the dark. If you breakdown or are in an accident, and you end up having to stand by the roadside or walk along a road, a high-vis vest will let other road users know you are there.
3. Food & water
Okay, this is Ireland and it’s exceptionally rare for anyone to be stranded roadside for more than a few hours, but a few energy bars and a bottle or two of water are great for keeping up your strength and staying hydrated while you wait for help. As well as quenching thirst, water is a great multi-tasker. It can be used to clean dirty number plates or mirrors, to wash out wounds, and to top up radiator or windscreen fluids.
4. Reflective triangle
An important one, especially when it’s dark and there’s no street lighting. If you break down or are in an accident, a reflective triangle will do two jobs: alert oncoming traffic that there’s a hazard up ahead, and tell them to slow down and drive with care. Without it, a bad situation could become a lot worse.
5. First Aid kit
A basic first aid kit is handy in case you need a patch up in an emergency situation, or if you need to deal with any minor injuries that happen in the course of driving or repairing a car.
If you’re going on a long journey, it’s a good idea to stash some cash, as well as cards, just in case. We’re not talking about wads of the stuff. Just enough to cover the basics – food, water, fuel and an overnight stay – should the occasion arise.
7. Jump leads
Flat batteries happen, especially in winter. And every driver should carry jump leads. You never know when you, or another unprepared motorist, might need them. You should also be confident you know how to use them. If you are in anyway unsure, wait for a professional or ask a fellow motorist.
A flashlight, with working batteries, means it will be a lot easier to change a tyre, look under the bonnet or do anything else required in an emergency situation. You can also get magnetic flashlights, which stick to your car, so if you are on your own, you can get on with whatever you’re doing hands-free.
9. Umbrella or waterproof jacket
This is Ireland, where it rains. A lot. So an umbrella or waterproof jacket is essential in case you need to stand outside the car, attempt any external repairs, or walk to a garage.
10. Duct tape
A duct-taped wing mirror or bumper is never a good look, but when it comes to emergency car repairs, a roll of duct tape will come in seriously handy for those temporary repairs until you can reach a repair garage.
11. External portable phone charger
In an accident or breakdown situation, a phone without juice is useless. So, it’s wise to keep a charger in your car. But if your car is out of power, you won’t be able to use it to charge your phone. Better then to get an external portable charger. Just make sure it’s fully charged before you set off, otherwise it’s as useful as your dead phone!
12. Basic tool kit
Even if you’re not exactly a natural with a wrench, hammer or screwdriver, having a tool kit in your car can come in useful if for those quick, relatively easy roadside fixes that don’t require a professional.
13. Spare tyre & jack
There are many drivers out there guilty of having a spare tyre, using it, and then forgetting to replace it. And in an emergency, a tyre-shaped hole in your boot isn’t much use. And as well as keeping a spare in your boot, knowing how to change it yourself is a good life skill to have.
Whether your car is stuck fast in a muddy festival field, in a ditch, or in a snowdrift, a shovel is one of those must-have items that can get you or your fellow motorists out of lots of unforeseen situations.
15. Replacement bulbs
Being safe often relies on being seen, so it’s a good idea to carry some replacement bulbs in case your internal or external lights fail and you’re confident enough to fix them yourself.
16. Insurance company details
If you breakdown or are in an accident, you’ll want to call your insurer. So it’s a good idea to have their contact details to hand.
A bottle of de-icer has several uses. De-icing the windows, obviously, and any other frozen parts of your car like locks and handles. Plus if the road or your driveway is too icy to walk or drive over, you can use your de-icer to melt it.
18. Warm clothes and boots
Whether you’re stuck inside or outside your car, warm clothes are a must in a winter breakdown or accident situation. And if you need to walk anywhere, a pair of sturdy boots will serve you well in snow, rain or mud.
If you’re in an accident or breakdown and your electrics fail, or you need to stand outside the car for any sustained period of time, you and your passengers will thank your lucky stars you had the good sense to pack a warm, snuggly blanket. A blanket is also handy if you need to get underneath the car for any reason and don’t want to get muddy or wet.
20. Kitty litter
Who knew kitty litter had life-saving, or at least, time-saving properties? If you find yourself stuck in slush or ice, pouring some cat litter underneath your tyres will help you get traction. And foggy windows are a dangerous winter hazard. But if you keep a sock filled full of kitty litter on your dashboard, it will soak up any moisture in the air and keep your windows fog-free. Purr-fect!