You can keep quite a lot of useful first aid items in a small plastic school container, often available at Walmart and other such stores in the late summer when school supplies are on sale. Here's what I purchased for 50 cents apiece:
To this box I have added the following, in no particular order of importance:
- Various sized Band-Aids
- Alcohol prep pads, latex gloves, safety pins, sewing needle
- Burn ointment, hydrocortisone cream, triple antibiotic cream
- OTC meds, like Advil Cold and Sinus, Claritin, Doan's, Sudafed, ibuprofen, aspirin, Pepto Bismol tabs, Rolaids, Dramamine, as well as any prescription meds we need
- Tweezers, scissors, antiseptic swabs (they are plastic and you snap them and the antiseptic runs down into the cotton tip, very handy!), Liquid Skin or New Skin
- Q-tips, cotton balls
- Small bottle of hand sanitizer (can be refilled from a larger container if needed) or package of wipes
All of the OTC meds I put in separate snack-size Ziploc bags and write the expiration date on the bags so I know how long they're fresh. Band-Aids, swabs, cotton boalls, etc., are also kept in snack bags, for the sake of keeping things organized. I keep the lid in place with a heavy duty rubber band, just to make sure things don't spill out all over the place when I'm trying to grab it from under the seat.
You also want to make sure you have these tools onboard your vehicle:
- Fully charged cell phone (you can use an old cell phone that is no longer on your plan, as by law, cell phone carriers must complete all cell phone calls dialing 911; make sure you have the charger in your glove box as well), or, at the very least, a prepaid phone card
- Jumper cables
- Wind-up LED flash light so you don't have to fret about batteries; or a Maglite, which also doubles as a weapon so you can clobber a would-be carjacker if you need to
- Roadside flares and reflective triangle
- MREs and/or power bars (cuz you never know how long you might be stuck in your car!)
- Warm blanket and an empty tuna can with a votive and matches (you can keep yourself warm for an entire night with a simple candle)
- Ice scraper and snow brush
- 2-3 gallons of water, for you and for your radiator
- Tow strap, rubber bands, bungee cords
- Folding shovel and small fire extinguisher
- Life hammer (good for shattering the windshield and cutting the seat belt strap in case, Yah forbid, your care ends up in the water or you are involved in a rollover and can't get out of your car)
- Portable air compressor, which you can get for under $30 and may save you the hassle of changing a tire when all you really need is for it to be filled with air for a short time)
- GPS and charger, because who really likes to be lost?
- Multi-head screwdriver, adjustable wrench, pliers, hammer, duct tape, work gloves, and a Leatherman, kept in a small toolbox
- Pen and notepad
- Spare credit card and cash
You may think of other things you could keep in the car for emergency purposes, or you may think some of these things are a little ridiculous. But they are handy nonetheless.
Finally, you might want to consider keeping a go-bag in your car, which I'll write about in another post.
p.s. My friend Thomas mentioned that I should add a can of Fix-a-Flat to my list for the car, for obvious reasons. Thanks, Thomas!