6 Car emergency essentials: Do you have what you need?

Nobody plans to get stranded by the side of the road. But when you pop a tire or your engine starts...

Nobody plans to get stranded by the side of the road. But when you pop a tire or your engine starts smoking, do you have a stash of emergency essentials tucked away in your car? Being trapped on the side of a hot Atlanta freeway for a few hours is no picnic. Here's what you need to make it through the ordeal safely.

1. Water: It's always a good idea to have a few bottles of water on hand. Dehydration can lead to dizziness, a headache and dry skin, according to the Mayo Clinic. Stay alert and hydrated by sipping water while you wait for help.

2. Medical supplies: Keep a small ration of prescription or over-the-counter medications handy. If you're diabetic or hypoglycemic, pack a few snacks including a packet of peanut butter crackers, yogurt-covered raisins and canned orange juice.

3. Cellphone charger: Sure, you never leave the house without your cellphone, but what if the power is waning and you need help pronto? Keep a cellphone charger in the glove box for such emergencies.

4. Car repair supplies: If you've removed the manufacturer-supplied spare tire, car jack and tire iron from your vehicle--put them back! These basic car repair items can mean the difference between making it to a service station or being stranded for hours or even days. It's also a good idea to keep a portable battery charger, jumper cables and a flashlight stored away in your emergency essentials kit.

5. A tool kit: Some auto repairs are as simple as a turn of the wrench. Keep a small tool kit complete with duct tape handy. Although you may not know how to do a simple repair, someone who stops to help might just be the handy MacGyver-type when offered some tools.

6. Bright cloth: An old T-shirt or scarf can make your car more visible instantly. When you're having a car emergency, the last thing you want is for people to not see your vehicle and rear-end it. Make the car stand out by attaching a bright-colored cloth to the car antenna. This will also ensure a tow truck or emergency personnel can find you, especially under foggy conditions.

Always keep the phone number for an auto repair service in Atlanta programmed into your cellphone. Choose a repair shop that also offers towing services to make your next auto breakdown a little less stressful.

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