Rethinking the Car Emergency Kit
In the last blog post we made brief mention of how winter storms had unexpected and significant impacts in Georgia and North Carolina this year. Many of us watched as stranded commuters waited in their cars for hours, ran out of gas and either walked for miles, abandoned their vehicles or slept in drug stores, churches and home improvement centers while they waited for the roads to clear. When those affected folks woke up, it’s likely not one of them thought they’d be spending the night in their car with no food, no water and no heat. But that’s the nature of emergencies – you just never know what the day holds, so it’s important to plan ahead for the unexpected.
In case you need some inspiration or motivation to review or create your vehicle emergency kit, here are some first-hand accounts of the terrible commuter situation in Atlanta:
- Atlanta storm traffic like zombie movie, driver stuck 22 hours
- Dispatch from a woman stuck in her car in Atlanta
- Atlanta snowstorm = Gridlock nightmare
- Tom Herman stuck in traffic overnight due to Atlanta snowstorm
The snow and ice may be nearly in the rearview mirror for most of us, but getting stuck in a car isn’t just a winter risk. Motorists have been stranded by flash floods, major traffic accidents, highway chemical spills and breakdowns in remote locations, among other reasons. Don’t let it happen to you. Review our “basics” list then check the “updated” list for thing you may need that you haven’t thought of.
- Cell phone –Take your cell phone with you every single time you get in the car. Even if you get a “no service” message in an emergency – try the call anyway. Download an emergency app like SOS iEmergency that quickly sends an alert to a predesignated contact. Remember that SMS (text messaging) and data service can be more reliable than voice, especially during an emergency when systems are damaged or over taxed.
- First Aid Kit – A car emergency kit should contain compress dressings, bandages, cloth tape, antibiotic ointment, antiseptic, non-latex gloves, scissors, tweezers and a basic first aid book.
- Hazard Light –Reflective triangle or flares that can be placed away from the vehicle. Check the laws in your state to see if battery operated hazard lights are legal.
- Fix-a-Flat – A tire sealant should only be used in an emergency, but comes in handy if a punctured tire stands between you and driving to safety.
- Jumper Cables
- Basic Tools – Sockets, wrenches, screwdrivers and pliers will enable you or a Good Samaritan to perform basic repairs. Ensure they’re the type that will fit your vehicle.
- Blanket – Store a space blanket or any other warm blanket. Even in summer months, bad weather can bring cold temperatures.
- An Extra Layer – Keep a spare set of warm clothes in case you need another layer or a dry set.
- Food – For each person who regularly rides along with you, keep a 72 hour supply of dehydrated entrees in your emergency kit.
- Water – Bottled water keeps a long time but it doesn’t store indefinitely, so be sure to rotate it periodically.
Some things you may not think of…
- Walking Shoes – The shoes most of us wear to work aren’t the shoes we’d want to walk a mile (or several miles) in. Instead of throwing them out, keep that old pair of tennis shoes in your car just in case you need them.
- Cash –$20 in small bills stashed in your glove box can be endlessly useful in emergency situations.
- Toilet paper, diapers, feminine hygiene products – For toilet paper, take out the cardboard tube, place in a Ziploc baggie and flatten.
- Road Atlas
- Paperback book
- Pepper spray
- Air horn
If it sounds like your entire trunk is going to be packed with emergency gear, it’s not. Put everything in an under-the-bed zipper bag (or recycle a plastic bedding bag) and place it flat on the floor of your trunk.
If you need a short cut, our Ultimate Auto Kit has many of the things you’d need in an emergency and comes in it’s own durable, compact bag.