When my daughters were young, my mother-in-law gave me a very important piece of advice: always keep a bag of emergency items in the trunk of the car. Everything from diapers and towels to protein bars and water bottles—items that may come in handy during bad traffic, a car breakdown, an unforeseeable sleepover at a friend’s house, or even a spontaneous trip to the beach. The mother-in-law bag ensured my family and I were always prepared.

Over the years I have encouraged my husband and daughters to do the same, and have extended this preparedness to include stocking up on any medications we may need day-to-day. I keep them in a coin zipper purse and either carry it with me in my larger purse or keep it in the center console of my car. I continually update these medications, everything from vital prescription medicine to over-the-counter pain killers. The drug store sells tiny ziplock bags, about an inch wide, that you can use to separate each type of medicine and then label so there’s no confusion over which white capsule is which. No matter where you are or what may happen, this is an easy way to ensure you have what you need to care for yourself and others, if necessary.

While I use my mother-in-law bag in some capacity every day, there is one day that I was beyond thankful I had it in my trunk. My oldest daughter and I were driving through our neighborhood, not far from home. As we came around the bend we passed a young teenage boy sitting over an elderly man in the middle of the street. Upon second glance, we realized the man had been on his bicycle and the boy had run over him in his truck. I pulled our car over to the curb and my daughter and I ran over to them. The boy was so upset he could not think and the man was in shock. 

I asked if the boy had called 911 and he hadn’t, so that was first on the list. Then my daughter ran to our trunk and retrieved my mother in law bag. I rolled up the man’s pant leg, which revealed an awful break in his lower leg with the bone showing through his skin. I wrapped above this area with first aid gauze from my bag to help stop the bleeding. We carefully moved him onto one of our blankets and covered him with another. 

While we did all this, my daughter and I talked to both the boy and the man, trying to keep them calm. I attempted to get information, like who the man was and where he lived. My daughter consoled the boy and had him call his parents. 

As the paramedics came to the scene, I gave them the information we had and what had happened. Then we stepped back and let them do their wonderful work, so grateful for the items from my mother-in-law bag.