Shove some of it to the side so you have room for seven must-have items that you'll need in a roadside emergency -- be it due to fog covering the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, icy waters splashing up on Lake Shore Drive in Chicago or a snowstorm that turns the Capital Beltway in Washington, DC, into bumper cars.
According to State Farm, the seven items are:
- Jumper cables
- Spare tire
- Hazard triangle/road flares
- First aid kit
When State Farm and KRC Research surveyed 1,010 drivers nationwide, they found that 99 percent of us have at least one of these items in our trunk, but only 9 percent have all seven. And that's not all. You should open your trunk at least twice a year and test the equipment to make sure it's working properly. After all, a flashlight with dead batteries won't do you any good. Make sure the spare tire is inflated, the first aid supplies are current and the water is fresh. Also, be sure your cell phone charger is compatible with either a power outlet or a USB port in your car. Communication capability can be the number one lifeline in some roadside emergency cases.
What do you do if you find yourself stranded on the side of the road? State Farm offers this advice:
- Pull off the highway (if possible), turn on your hazard lights and use a road flare or reflectors to signal attention.
- If you have a cell phone, call 911 and describe your location as precisely as possible. Follow any instructions from the dispatcher.
- Remain in your vehicle so help can find you.
- Run your vehicle's engine and heater about 10 minutes each hour to keep warm.
- Open a downwind window slightly for ventilation and clear snow from the exhaust pipe to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Don't waste your vehicle's battery power. Balance electrical energy needs -- lights, heat and radio--with supply.
- At night, turn on an inside light when you run the engine so help can see you.
- Keep emergency supplies like road flares, a flashlight, blanket, windshield scraper, jumper cables, spare tire and a first aid kit in your vehicle or trunk at all times.
- Keep your fuel tank at least half full at all times during bad weather.