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Navigating a bump in the road

Keeping essential tools in your car — ranging from a simple torchlight and triangle breakdown sign to more complex items — could save your life.
Keeping essential tools in your car — ranging from a simple torchlight and triangle breakdown sign to more complex items — could save your life.PHOTO: DREAMSTIME

Prepare for contingencies by keeping these essential items in your car

As a motorist, you never know when you may run into some road trouble.

That is why the Automobile Association of Singapore (AAS) advises keeping  these essential tools in your car — ranging from a simple torchlight and triangle breakdown sign to more complex items that could save your life: 

Multipurpose safety hammer

This small, multifunctional tool will be very useful should you need to escape from your car.

Use it to break the windows if you are trapped.

Some safety hammers also come with flashlights, screwdrivers, several blades and a whistle.

Get one that comes with a seatbelt cutter so you don’t waste any time fumbling with the catch.

Remember to store the hammer within easy reach of the driver’s seat and not in the boot.

Portable fire extinguisher

A car can catch fire due to electrical problems or if the engine overheats, or if it is old and not maintained  regularly.

Vehicle fires are on the rise lately so having a portable fire extinguisher in your car will come in handy.

If you smell oil or notice smoke from your car, get out immediately and take the fire extinguisher with you. Make sure that you know how to use it properly too. 

The Singapore Civil Defence Force recommends a carbon dioxide extinguisher as it is most effective for flammable liquids such as petrol.

Dashboard camera

When an accident occurs, a dashboard camera can provide objective, recorded evidence of what actually occurred at a given time and place. Some dashboard camera models continue to record footage even when your car is parked.

So if someone vandalises it or causes damage accidentally (and does not leave his contact information), you can check the camera to find out who’s responsible.

Spare tyre and tyre jack

When one of your tyres goes flat, you will be grateful you have a spare. Replace the bad tyre and you are on your way with minimal fuss.

Even if you do not know how to change a tyre, some kind soul on the road may help you — as long as you have the tyre, and a tyre jack and iron.

For added safety, the AAS recommends that wheel chocks be used to keep the car secure while the tyre is being changed.

If your car does not have a spare tyre, check if it comes with an inflator kit.

First-aid kit

A first-aid kit is useful for minor injuries like cuts or scrapes. Bind up a bleeding wound, for example, then head to a hospital for further medical attention if required.

Make sure the kit in your car is well-stocked with essentials such as bandages, antiseptic, gauze, wet wipes, saline solution, surgical tape and other necessities.

Remember to check the expiry dates on lotions or creams and replenish expired items when necessary.

Jumper cables and  rubber gloves

These cables are a godsend when your car stalls and your phone is out of juice. But use them only if you are familiar with the procedure of how to jumpstart your car battery, advises the AAS, or you may damage the electronics systems commonly found in modern cars.

It is important to use a pair of rubber gloves for insulation, while you are doing the procedure, so make sure you have these in your car toolkit as well.