7 Steps you can take to prepare your vehicle for the unexpected.
Regardless of where you live or the length of your commute, it is essential that your vehicle is equipped for basic emergencies. I make it my business to read many articles and watch a lot of videos about prepping in general.
Very few of them talk about preparing your vehicles. They talk up a storm about preparing your home for all types of disasters and SHTF scenarios. Stock food and water to the rafters. Beans, bullets and band-aids and so on.
But what good will all of that do if disaster strikes while you are driving?
Start with the basics
- Do you know how to change a flat tire? When I turned 16, my father made me prove that I could change a tire before he took me to get my driver license. First, he showed me how to do it, then I did it on my own. That lesson has come in handy several times! So make sure your vehicle has a spare tire and tools to change it. If you don’t know how to do this, there are countless youTube videos or enlist a friend to teach you.
- Roadside Assistance. If you are unable to change a tire, make sure your auto insurance includes roadside assistance. Your insurance carrier contracts with companies that will come to you and change a tire, jump start a dead battery or provide towing services. I’ve used this several times and it works great. Well worth a few dollars added to your insurance!
Beyond the basics
3. First Aid Kit. Does not have to be big and expensive. Just the basics here. I keep a small one in the back of my SUV and I’ve used it more than I ever thought possible. Get one that is flat enough for easy storage. My kit has been used on fishing trips, while spending time at the park and helping a friend move. During the move, my friend suffered a nasty cut while handling some furniture and he did not have a kit handy.
4. Jumper Cables. It’s almost impossible to predict when your battery will crank out its last breath. If you have cables, all you need is a willing participant to pull up beside you. Using the jumper cables can jump start your battery so you can drive it to get replaced ASAP. Typically, batteries die in the heat of the summer or the coldest of winter.
Also, when you get your vehicle’s oil changed, ask the mechanic to check the charge on your battery. Often that can tell you if it’s close to needing replaced.
5. Extra clothing for winter. What if you break down on the side of the road and it’s freezing outside? What if the roads are too hazardous for help to come right away due to ice or snow? That automobile is your only shelter. Make sure you have gloves, hat, blanket, scarf. Don’t think it can happen where you live? Ask the folks in Texas.
Speaking of clothing, don’t forget a good pair of walking shoes or sneakers! Having to walk several miles in heels or boots would not be desirable.
The next one can double as a way to help your fellow human in need.
6. Water and food. I keep a small backpack in the rear storage area of my SUV. I keep 2 bottled waters and a few protein bars. Rotate them out for new ones on occasion. If you break down, you just never know how long you may have to wait for help.
It’s also something you can offer a homeless person. I don’t like to give out cash (I rarely carry it anyway) and I’ve actually had a good many homeless people take me up on a bottled water or protein bar.
7. A good flashlight. It does not have to be huge, but reliable and check the batteries. Can’t tell you how many times I have used a little flashlight over the years. True, your interior cabin does have lighting, but what if your battery is dead? The small version of the Maglite is what I always have in my glove box.
Some other suggestions.
Small pocket knife, string or rope, cell phone charger and portable tire pressure pump that can plug into your power point.
A real physical road map. Unless you are of a certain age, you may not know what I am talking about here. But once upon a time, we had to rely on such maps to navigate. Most larger gas stations have them or you can order one online. In a situation where GPS is offline, this will come in handy!
I know what you are thinking. This is WAY too much stuff to cram into my car! Trust me, it’s really not. I drive a small SUV and it takes up very little room in mine. I keep my items in a compartment below the rear storage, where the spare tire is located. Some small items like a flashlight and knife, I keep in dash/glove box.
I hope this was helpful and will motivate you to take steps to better prepare your vehicle for emergencies.
Please share your feedback with me and feel free to ask questions!