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9 Surprising First Aid Items Already in Your Car

Caught on the road without a proper first aid kit? These common items will help in a pinch.

istock/Eva Katalin Kondoros

Chewing gum for heartburn

Sugarless gum can alleviate symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease, found a Wake Forest University study. The act of chewing gum produces more saliva, which reduces acidity in your stomach to help it settle.  For long term relief, try these natural remedies for heartburn.


Credit card for bee stings

Few things are more terrifying than being stuck in a car with a bee, but if it stings, you don’t need tweezers, which could actually inject more venom into your body when you grab the stinger. Instead, gently scrape it out using a credit card.


Tampons for cuts

Bandages aren’t the only way to stop bleeding. Press a tampon against the open wound while applying pressure to soak the blood and stop the bleeding. Tampons are safer than using tissues, which are fragile and might leave contaminating bits in the gash.


Pencil for headaches

Tension headaches develop when you clench your teeth while you’re stressed out. To relax your jaw and relieve your head pain, place a pencil between your teeth without biting, Fred Sheftell, MD, director of the New England Center for Headache told These pain cures are hiding in your junk drawer.


Cold drink for swelling

If you happen to have a bagged lunch with an ice pack, dig it out, and hold it against the swollen area. Otherwise, an iced drink could work just as well in a pinch. Throw ice from a soft drink into a plastic bag, or use the cup itself. Check out when to use heat vs. ice.


Lip balm for small cuts

Like petroleum jelly, lip balm’s waxiness stops blood flow and helps clots form. Dab it over a minor cut, then clean it off after the bleeding stops.


Eye drops for foreign particles

You keep eye drops for dry eyes, but they also come in handy when you get something caught in your eye that won’t come out by blinking. Rinse it out using eye drops.

istock/Ian McDonnell

Toothpaste for burns

If you’re on vacation and spill a hot beverage, grab white mint toothpaste from your luggage and spread a thin layer over the burn after rinsing it with cold water. These are other unexpected uses for toothpaste.


Sweater to stop bleeding

Deep wounds require direct pressure to stop the bleeding. Use your emergency cardigan as a barrier between your hand and the wound if you don’t have gauze, and hold it there until the bleeding stops.

Sources:;;; University of Rochester Medical Center;; U.S. National Library of Medicine; Kitchen Cabinet Cures (Reader’s Digest Association Books)

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest

Marissa Laliberte
Marissa Laliberte-Simonian is a London-based associate editor with the global promotions team at WebMD’s and was previously a staff writer for Reader's Digest. Her work has also appeared in Business Insider, Parents magazine, CreakyJoints, and the Baltimore Sun. You can find her on Instagram @marissasimonian.

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