In every issue of WebMD the Magazine, we ask our experts to answer readers' questions about a wide range of topics. In our July/August 2012 issue, we asked WebMD's child health expert, Hansa Bhargava, MD, how parents should put together an emergency kit for their cars.
Q: I worry that my car will break down somewhere when I'm alone or with my kids. What emergency supplies should I keep in my vehicle?
Marcela Jones, an English professor in Washington, D.C., says her 3-year-old daughter, Amalia, starts screaming as soon as they step into a doctor's office. Her child's white coat-triggered misery started, Jones says, with her two-year checkup -- Amalia had her routine shots and then went upstairs to another office for a lead blood test. "We had to have three people holding her down," says Jones. "It was horrible."
What's a parent to do? Jones knew she didn't want a struggle like that again, so...
A: Whether it's a blown tire, a broken-down engine, or a case of being just plain lost, having an emergency kit can reduce stress, keep you safe, and get you back on the road faster. Here's what to bring.
Cellphone and charger. Being able to call for help can make the difference between life and death. Make sure your phone is charged at all times.
Basic supplies. Pack a quart of water per person, plus energy bars and trail mix, which provide protein and carbs. Have at least one blanket in the car, too, in case you get stuck at night.
Baby supplies. Extra formula, bottles, and diapers are crucial if you have an infant in the car. So is a spare set of clothes.
Car tools. Every car should have a tire gauge, spare tire (with lug wrench and jack), jumper cables, and flares (make sure you know how to use them). Add a flashlight so you can see what you're doing at night, plus gloves to protect your hands.
First-aid kit. A basic kit will give you what you need to patch up wounds, wrap a sprain, or treat a headache.