When I was in my late teens, some friends and I decided we were going to go on a mini night-time adventure – we were going to climb a large rocky hill that overlooked two cities.

From atop our perch, we could watch the planes take off and land. We could watch the ships coming in and out of the harbor, all lit up in the dark estuary. By climbing high above the light pollution, we would probably even see more stars than we’d ever seen before. Sounded like fun. 

The drive wasn’t far, only about an hour away, so we didn’t think we’d need anything other than our coats. But something happened on the way. We crashed. Specifically, we skidded through black ice and ended up in a ditch (for road accidents that weren’t your fault, check out this company).

Car problems ,red warning triangle on road.

Everyone was fine. Not even so much as a bruise, luckily, but we were in the middle of nowhere and we quickly realised we had no real escape plan. We were several hours’ walk from home through rural countryside, with nothing to light the way except a half-interested sliver of moon peeking out every now and then from behind thick clouds.

The guy who owned the car elected to stay with the car until the morning, when his father could bring his 4×4 and a tow cable to save the day. The other two walked home. I chose to stay put and keep my friend company. Ever since then, I’ve always kept the following items in my car, just in case…

Water

An obvious one. But always one worth mentioning right at the start. Whilst we could all survive a few hours without a drink, two or three bottles of water in the car can help to stave off a nagging thirst that seems to get all the more worse whenever we’re told we simply do not have anything to drink for hours to come. 

Snacks

Energy bars and cereal bars will do the trick. Again, speaking from experience, being stranded for several hours without so much as a morsel of food to eat wasn’t exactly life-threatening, but it wasn’t pleasant. Snacks will keep your blood sugar up, too, which can bring about a better mood and help the time to pass.

A blanket

When we were kids, every car (to my memory) had a tartan blanket draped over the back seats, or certainly folded neatly in the boot. These days, cars are disposable, with people swapping their four wheels almost every year for something newer or sportier or with a red paint job or whatever colour is “in”. That means people view their cars as accessories, not as something to care for and keep well-stocked. A blanket can make all the difference in comfort if you’re stranded overnight.  

De-icer (or an ice scraper)

If you do find yourself stranded overnight, and even if you’ve packed water and snacks and a blanket, waking up to find your car has frozen over is a fresh hurdle. Make life easy. Always keep a de-icer spray or a scraper in your car.

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