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9 Items You Need to Keep in Your Car (and Probably Don’t)

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Having to deal with rapidly changing weather, harsh winters and long distances between towns in rural areas, Canadian drivers know the importance of being prepared for emergencies when out on the road. OnStar Members have the added peace of mind of being able to contact an Advisor for Emergency Services*12 when the unexpected happens. However, it’s still a good idea to pack some basic supplies in your vehicle, just in case.

You may already have the obvious supplies — a windshield scraper and brush, snow shovel, flashlight, jumper cables, first-aid kit, bottled water and tire gauge. But here are some other important items to keep in your vehicle.

  1. Face mask: Make sure you always have face masks on hand for you and any passengers, as they’re now required in many public spaces and businesses.
  2. Disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer: An absolute must-have, wipes can be used to pick up spills, clean dirty hands and dust your dashboard. And when you can’t wash your hands with soap and water, use hand sanitizer to help prevent spreading germs. (Just be careful storing it, as heat and sunlight can degrade sanitizer. It’s best to leave it in the door or in the console of a car, rather than exposed in a cupholder, or in any place sunlight will not directly hit the hand sanitizer.)
  3. Map: While an OnStar Advisor can provide you with directions,*16 it’s always good to have a physical backup on hand in case of emergency.
  4. Kitty litter: It’s great for absorbing and eliminating odours quickly if a child or pet gets sick in the car, but you can also spread it on ice or snow for traction during winter.
  5. Non-perishable snacks: Highly caloric and protein-rich, energy bars and nuts can make a long road trip bearable and provide some energy if you’re waiting for help to arrive. (Not a fan of nuts? A pack of your favourite all-dressed or ketchup-flavored chips would work too.) Keep a supply of bottled water as well, but replace it periodically to ensure freshness.
  6. Duct tape: This miracle material can solve a surprising number of everyday calamities, whether it’s as simple as getting dog hair off your seats, or a more involved fix like repairing a damaged suitcase or patching up a torn umbrella.
  7. Utility knife/multitool: A multipurpose tool can get you out of many sticky situations. Look for something that can also be used to break a window or cut a jammed seatbelt.
  8. Matches: Store some safety matches in a freezer bag so they’ll stay dry. Be sure not to get the strike-anywhere matches, as you don’t want to cause an accident.
  9. Blanket: The value of a warm, dry blanket cannot be overstated if you’re stranded in cold weather. But you might not have thought of other handy uses. You can use a blanket if you need to kneel down on the ground to change a tire or deal with another roadside emergency. Or, in more fun times, it can come in handy for an impromptu picnic during a road trip.