Your Vehicle Emergency Kit
Be Prepared on the Roads.
By: Ghost – August 14, 2014
Owning a car and driving around is a fact of life for many people. Either commuting to and from work, driving to the mall to run errands, road trips, meetings, and the usual family commitments, we spend a great deal of time in our cars. Rushing around, we often take our vehicles for granted. We just expect them to turn on in the morning when we turn the key, even if it’s freezing outside, and to get us to where we need to go with little more than the occasional fill-up. The truth is we never know when something in that complex machine is going to break and we will be left somewhere alone and in a situation without any support.
Enter the emergency kit for our vehicle. There are a few things you can do to mitigate the risk of a breakdown and preparing yourself for self-sufficiency when stranded in your vehicle.
❖ First off, maintain your vehicle. Take your vehicle for regular maintenance, oil changes, diagnose and repair problems as they happen so that your car is in top shape whenever you head out on the road.
❖ Second, you want to keep at least a half-take of gas at all times, with a small can (approved for trunk storage) of fuel in the trunk. If you’re uncomfortable with fuel in the trunk, keep an empty can at least.
❖ Third, put together an emergency kit appropriate for your vehicle and season you’re in so that you can survive a night in your car if stranded.
Finally, use common sense. Stay informed about driving conditions, communicate routes with trusted people in case something happens and postpone trips if hazardous.
Road conditions can go from clear to treacherous very quickly and being caught unawares can put you at risk, especially if you’re on a lightly-travelled route. Whenever you leave your home, hope for the best but prepare for the worst.
What You Should Carry in Your Car
Like any other preparations, tailoring the items you will cary should be measured agai
nst your needs, climate and road conditions, as well as the size of your car and possible amount of passengers you may be traveling with. I also like to prepare to render assistance to those I may find in need on the side of the road, so I pack a few extra things as well
Lets go over Here is a list of what I recommend you have in your bag:
- A short, full-tang knife and/or multi-tool
- Jumper cables
- Full-sized spare tire (and can of fix-a-flat tire repair)
- adequate jack (and a piece of wood for a base)
- Tow strap (2″ x 24′)
- Bottles of Water
- Method of water purification (tabs or filter – Aquatabs? LifeStraw?)
- Small roll of duct tape
- Can of WD-40
- 25+ feet of 550lb paracord
- Heavy-duty garbage bags
- Small flashlight (reliable w/ extra batteries if required)
- 2-4 chem-light glow sticks and/or road flares (red/white, or blue/amber if winter)
- A few food sources (energy bars, GORP, ramen noodles, soup packets, granola bars,etc.)
- Small vehicle tool kit (pliers, wrench, screwdrivers, hammer, shovel)
- Bag of gravel or kitty litter (for traction in snow or mud)
- Selected medications (Tylenol, Gravol, Caffeine, Ventalin?)
- Warm blanket
- Small stash of cash and change (including tokens or tickets for public transit)
- Spare set of keys (for vehicle and house)
- Spare charger or battery for your cell phone (ready to go in the bag at all times)
- Change of clothes appropriate for the possible weather, terrain and duration for your trip home. (This is HUGELY important. You should keep tough, climate appropriate clothes and footwear to change into if you have to make the trek home. You don’t want to not make it because of injury due to terrain or death from exposure).
- Extra socks (preferably wool)
- Map (with primary, secondary and tertiary routes marked) and compass.
- Small pad of paper, black permanent marker, pen and pencils (mechanical and plain).
- A lighter (simple, Bic) & candles in a metal holder
- Personal Care items (a few tampons/pads, wet wipes, hand sanitizer, travel toothbrush & toothpaste, metal cup for boiling water, etc.)
- First Aid Kit: (a few gauze pads, band-aids, nitrile gloves, CPR mask, Quik-Clot, N95 mask, EMT shears, extra maxi pads for pressure dressings, splint material, triangular bandage )
- Work gloves
- Fire extinguisher
- Spare napkins, toilet paper, kleenex.
I would suggest this as a well-rounded minimum. Also, be prepared to leave a lot of things behind. If the situation is dire enough, you may have to leave your vehicle at work or on the way home. Be sure to regularly rotate the food and water in your Bag, check expiry dates on any medications, check batteries and refill consumables as necessary. Change or add items as required, according to changing seasons or approaching weather. Being aware helps you to be prepared.
If caught in a storm, you may be forced to stay in your vehicle if it’s bad enough on the roads, so if you add an extra sweater and socks, you will have more insulation to keep you warm. A candle lit in your car through the night (especially one of those ’36-hour’ 3-wick candles) can keep you alive until help arrives. Also, stay in your car! Most people who are injured or killed on the roadside are struck by passing cars. Your vehicle will protect you. It’s a steel cage which will provide protection from the elements and on-coming traffic.
Another thing you may want to consider is to purchase a membership to CAA/AAA because they can assist you should your vehicle break down. They can give you a boost, bring a spare tank of fuel, unlock your car if you lock yourself out, and provide a tow to a mechanic. It comes in handy. They also provide other benefits such as maps, trip planning, insurance and travel guides; not to mention discounts on all kinds of things. My membership has helped me out many times. I think it’s well worth it.
Having your Vehicle Kit stocked and in place promotes confidence and reduces fear in the face of a crisis. If you know what you have and how to use it when under stress you will be able to stay calm and deal with the situation.
Be prepared, be ready, be free from fear.