If you live in your car like I do, then you know that the safety of your kids — and hey, yourself — is always top of mind. After finding myself unprepared for minor incidents (thankfully small ones!), I’ve learned the hard way that I need to remember to have certain items in my car at all times. And a couple of them I just discovered thanks to our sponsor Michelin, maker of the tires that you just may have on your car right now.
Turns out, tires, especially those worn tires we are all driving on, are the least talked-about safety devices that you use every single day.
In fact, while brakes stop your wheels, tires actually stop your car. Just think about that for a moment.
So, on their behalf, I’m sharing 10 things that I feel parents should always keep in their car, especially if you’re shuttling kids around as much as I do.
1. A mobile phone car charger. This seems obvious, but I have a car with a built-in USB, and there have been times that sneaky children have taken my cable and rendered me charger-less.
I suggest you have a designated charger and cable, marked very clearly, that you always keep in your car. IT DOES NOT COME OUT. You can’t be clear enough about this with kids!
2. Air vent phone mount: This is the kind of affordable, easily adjustable mount for your phone that just clips to the flaps on your A/C vent on your dashboard. Ever since I started using an air vent phone mount, I’m much less distracted in my car since my map app is now at eye level.
As a bonus, it also makes it a lot harder to grab your phone when it’s ringing or dinging. That’s a safety feature in itself.
3. Two navigational apps. Two nav apps are better than one, so I always have a backup on my phone ever since I discovered that Google Maps, my first choice, doesn’t always play nicely with road closures. Waze is my backup GPS app because I can’t tell you how many times Google has sent me to closed roads or dead ends.
If you want to be extra safe, download or screenshot your directions to where you’re going, and you can even keep a real map in your car (yes, they still exist) — particularly if you’re heading out on a road trip or going to a location that may not have a strong signal.
4. First aid kit. There are first aid kits made especially for cars that are perfect for stashing in your glove box for any small on-the-road emergency. Remember, it’s not just while you’re driving, but when you get to your destination, that it can be handy to have bandages and antibiotic ointment readily available. Especially with kids!
5. Water. Lots of it. Thirsty children are a total safety hazard, especially if you’ve got four of them in the car like I do! But really, having a few extra bottles of water in your car at all times is definitely smart in case you get stranded somewhere, or if your car gets overheated.
More about our sponsor
We can’t talk about car safety without talking about worn tires, a conversation that our sponsor Michelin is encouraging everyone to have. Because as much as we might hear about new tire performance, none of us are actually driving on them.
The second you leave the dealer, you’re driving on worn tires. Ad let’s just say the performance of your worn tires really matters, especially in wet conditions.
Just take a look at the stopping distances (in feet) from my own wet braking demonstration last week, going 45 miles an hour! Trust me when I say I could feel the difference, and it was startling.
As you can see, your worn tire performance really matters for your family’s safety.
With that in mind, our sponsor Michelin is hoping to educate all of us on key questions we should be asking about our tires, Plus, they’re providing tips to help, like the simple penny test we can all do on our own to see if our worn tires need to be replaced.
And worn tires are not just a safety issue, by the way. It’s a financial issue. Because when you choose a tire that continues offering quality performance over time, you don’t have to spend money to replace your tires as frequently.
You can learn more about the truth about worn tires on their website.
6. Tire pressure gauge: Car safety has so much to do with tire pressure — especially when you’re driving on worn tires — yet admittedly it’s something I seem to only worry about when I see that blinking alert light on my dashboard.
While I love that kind of technology, it’s smart to be on top of your tire pressure yourself, checking your pressure once a month — always before a road trip and at the change of seasons.
And while some gas station air pumps have gauges, they’re not consistent at all, and it’s impossible to confirm the accuracy of the reading. So definitely have your own tire pressure tucked away in your glove box or trunk. They’re not expensive!
7. Paper towels: Having a roll or two of paper towels in the car that my kids can easily access on their own has made my driving life a whole lot safer. When someone spills, makes a mess, or starts sneezing uncontrollably (for real, that’s happened), the kids can take care of it on their own so my hands stay on the wheel and my eyes stay on the road.
8. Jumper cables: After being asked for jumper cables a few times in various parking lots by stranded drivers, I decided that keeping my own set in my car would be a smart idea — especially with kids who like to leave internal lights on all the time.
This is one of those purchases that you might not need very much, but when you do, you’ll be so grateful that you have them in your car.
9. One penny. I mentioned the penny test earlier, a clever trick that I learned from our sponsor Michelin. It’s one of the quickest, easiest ways to see if you’re driving on tires that are too worn to be safely on the road.
Not-so-fun fact: It’s actually illegal in about 32 states to drive on tires that are worn past a specific point (as in, your car will not pass inspection), so this is a test you want to take!
Oh, and since you’re tossing pennies in your car already, go ahead and add some quarters to the mix for unexpected tolls and parking meters. You’ll thank me later.
10. A blanket: I never leave my house without a blanket in the car, even in summer. And that’s not just because I’m a hockey mom who spends my weekends in 40-degree rink year-round. I’ve also used it for catching a sick kid’s puke (TMI?), as well as a picnic blanket — though not in the same trip, promise!
And there’s nothing like a soft, warm blanket to soothe tired, grouchy kids, who can be distracting from the back seat when we’re driving long distances together.
Thanks to our sponsor Michelin for hosting me at the Laurens Proving Grounds a few weeks ago where I learned so much important info about worn tires and even got test them out myself.
Head over to the Michelin website to learn more about how you can get involved in the worn tires conversation, and help keep your family safer on the road. It’s important!