The more prepared you are, the better off you’ll be. This is never truer than on the road, especially where car accidents are concerned. Whether you’re involved in a minor fender bender or a catastrophic crash, having the right tools in your trunk (and your glovebox) can make a huge difference.

Here are a few essentials – make sure you have them before you next hit the road.

1. Medical Supplies

While you probably aren’t going to be patching yourself up after suffering a catastrophic injury, having a basic first aid kit in your vehicle can help prevent minor accident-related injuries from becoming more severe. You can buy a basic one from virtually any department store. Many camping supply outlets and auto stores sell them as well.

2. Important Documentation

It’s a little baffling to me that many drivers set out onto the road without first double-checking that their glovebox contains everything it should. Not only can that land you in pretty serious trouble with the law, it can also leave you high and dry in the event of an accident. Before your next drive, make sure you’ve got the following on-hand:

  • Your car manual
  • Insurance information
  • Registration forms

3. A Blanket

Winter is just around the corner – and if you’re in a car accident while there’s snow on the ground, frostbite and hypothermia are very real dangers. Make sure you’ve got a sleeping bag or a thermal blanket stowed away that you can use to shelter yourself from the cold. Better yet, pack both.

4. A Flashlight

Sure, you could probably just use the flashlight on your phone – but what if it gets damaged in an accident? Modern smartphones aren’t exactly known for their durability, after all. Again, this is a matter of “better safe than sorry.”

5. Snow Removal

An ice scraper, brush, and shovel is all extremely important to have. If your car winds up careening into a snowdrift and it’s safe to get out, they might be the difference between extricating yourself or being stuck there for several hours.

6. Non-Perishable Food

Energy bars and water bottles can help you keep your energy up while you’re waiting for the authorities to arrive at the scene of an accident. This is especially important during colder months – you do not want to fall asleep in the cold.

7. Emergency Warning Triangles

For both your own safety and the safety of other drivers on the road, make sure you’ve stocked a healthy supply of reflective triangles in your car. Particularly at night, placing these around the scene of an accident will keep more people from getting involved in the worst way possible.

8. A USB Phone Charger And Portable Battery

We all forget to charge our phones sometimes. It happens. By keeping a phone charger handy in your car (and a portable battery you can hook up to your phone if your car breaks down), you can make sure you stay connected and can call for help after an accident.

9. Jumper Cables

Jumper cables are essential for more than just accident scenarios. If your battery (or the battery of some other poor individual) dies, you want to ensure you’ve got these onboard to fix things.

10. A Spare Tire (And Associated Tools)

Not every accident leads to catastrophic injury. There are plenty of minor fender benders which can lead to anything from a few dents to a busted tire. That’s why, amongst the other things in your vehicle, you should always carry a spare tire, a jack, a patch kit, a pressure gauge, and a tire inflator.

11. An Emergency Escape Tool

It seems to be a pretty common trope in the media – someone’s car ends up flying into a lake or flipping over in a ditch, and the poor soul ends up trapped in their seatbelt, helplessly watching as their end approaches. You can avoid winding up in their shoes by purchasing an emergency escape tool for a pittance.

A combination seatbelt cutter and window smasher, this device can get you out of a really nasty situation before it gets much, much worse.

12. Matches And A Candle In A Can

A Candle in a Can is an important source of warmth if you wind up stranded in the middle of winter, but it’s useless without something to light it. I suggest matches because they tend to be a bit more reliable in the cold than many lighters.

Stay Safe On The Road

You may not be able to avoid a car accident. You may not be able to prevent your vehicle from breaking down. What you can do is make sure that you’re prepared when the worst happens – that you can get through unscathed.