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3 essentials for your emergency car kit

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It’s a good idea to keep an emergency kit in your car year round, but it’s even more crucial when winter weather hits.

Here are three essentials you should always have on hand in your vehicle in an emergency:

1. Food and water. You need a gallon of water per person per day, so Popular Mechanics recommends keeping around 16 small drink boxes (they take up less space than bottles), which have an average shelf life of five years. You can also keep refillable water bottles, but also pack chlorine tablets in case you find yourself with a skeptical water source. Pack good quality high-calorie (2400 to 3600 calories) energy and protein bars, best bought at a camping, sports or health food store rather than a grocery store. Good ones will sustain you for three days.

2. Protection. Pack a wool blanket and chemical warm packs, adds Popular Mechanics. An emergency blanket (also known as a space blanket) is a metal-coated plastic sheet that can keep you warm in an emergency. Chemical heat packs react with air and can add warmth inside a blanket. To stay dry, include a waterproof poncho with a hood. It’s also a good idea to pack extra clothes and a good winter hat. A packable down jacket takes up hardly any room in its pouch and provides superior warmth. Include a small tarp too, in case you need temporary shelter.

3. Emergency equipment. Your emergency kit should also include a flashlight, glow sticks, matches, and emergency candles. Rechargeable flashlights that charge in your car's 12-volt outlet are ideal. A plastic whistle with two chambers works much better at attracting help than shouting, notes Popular Mechanics. It’s important to include a good quality solar- and hand-crank-powered light/radio/cellphone charger in case batteries run out.

Douglas Automotive : 123 E. Virginia, Crystal Lake, IL 815.356.0440 : 417 W. Main Street, Barrington, IL : 847. 381.0454 : 416 Northwest Highway, Fox River Grove, IL : 847.639.4552 : www.douglasautomotive.com

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