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Five Tools to Keep in Your Trunk

Stranded on the side of the road? AAA recommends five emergency tools,
including a space blanket and shovel, to keep in your trunk.

folding shovel, image
Photo caption
A folding shovel comes in handy when you have to dig your way out of a situation.

Even with the phone number for AAA Emergency Road Service in your pocket, it’s smart to set yourself up to weather a low-level crisis, or at least to stay safe and comfortable until help arrives. All it takes is some preparation and a little bit of trunk space. You have a jack, a lug wrench, and maybe a spare tire in there already. Here are some other essential emergency tools.

  • AAA Premium Warrior Road Kit
    You can find more than 20 AAA-approved car emergency aids of varying sizes at numerous websites; this kit, packed with 77 items, is the most comprehensive. It includes jumper cables, a reflective warning triangle, a 250 psi air compressor to inflate tires on the spot, and an abundance of other articles such as screwdrivers, pliers, and a 45-piece first-aid kit. $62.95 at
  • Space blanket
    Compact and efficient, this waterproof, windproof, shimmery Mylar sheet developed by NASA can help you stay warm, shield you from the sun, and serve as a ground cloth for picnics.
  • Folding shovel
    For digging out of sticky situations.
  • Food and water
    You hope you’ll never be stranded for long, but keep on hand a gallon or so of water and some packages of high-calorie foods with a long shelf life, such as energy bars or dried fruit.
  • American Red Cross Road Torq
    This superb multi-purpose light by Etón stands on three reflective legs. Use its steady beam to inspect your car, or flip its head and have its flashing beacon stand sentry in the breakdown lane. One minute of easy cranking yields 15 minutes of power for the lights. The Wall Street Journal called the Road Torq “cute, useful, and utterly dependable.”

Photography by Constantine Pankin/Shutterstock

This article was first published in November 2011. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.