I’m not a survivalist and this isn’t a survival website. I’m not a prepper who runs for a bunker every time I hear of a bad national news event. I’m a realist who believes that part of self-sustainability is being reasonably prepared for an emergency so in honor of National Preparedness Month I’m going to detour from our normal format to discuss a few things I find important from a logical standpoint. If you click on articles about saving gas they invariably tell you one of the things you should do to increase vehicle gas mileage is to dump any extra weight in the vehicle. Every time I read that I wonder to myself if they’ve ever been stranded on a back country road in the dark. Have they ever had a flat tire 40 miles from the nearest town with a flat spare tire? What about a dead battery in a parking lot? See where I’m going with this? If you’ve ever had something like that happen then you have hopefully learned your lesson and you now carry at least a few important items in your vehicle to help you out of a sticky situation.
I don’t claim to be an expert in this area but I have always been the kind of guy to try to be as reasonably prepared as I can be for a vehicle emergency and as a result I have only ever been stranded once that I required intervention. I was 16 and freshly licensed by the great state of Texas to operate a motor vehicle and while sitting at Sonic trying to be the cool new driver, I ran out of gas. I learned a lesson from my dad that day that I have lived by ever since, never let your gas tank get below 1/4 tank. I’ve never ran out of gas again. So as silly as it may seem to have that at number one on the list, there are drivers who forget their gas and end up stranded.
- A fuel can (in case you ever run out because you forgot number 1)
- At least a quart of oil for your vehicle. If you don’t know what type and weight oil your vehicle requires check your owner’s manual.
- Antifreeze (see the tip in 3 for what type your car requires. Some are very specific).
- Spare tire (make sure to check the air pressure in that tire periodically)
- Jack, tools for retrieving your spare if it’s tucked away somewhere, and a four way tire iron. If at all possible by a real four way tire iron instead of using whatever cheapy came with your vehicle. Have someone teach you how to change your tire so you are never at the mercy of a simple flat.
- A set of wrenches, sockets, and screwdrivers. You can find cheap all-in-one tool kits
that will suffice. No need to spend $500 on a set of vehicle tools. (This one is great because it has a few important extras that are next in the list).
- Jumper cables
- A flashlight
- Leather gloves (they’ll save your hands a thousand times while working or a vehicle, changing a tire, etc.)
- A first aid kit like this one from Johnson & Johnson or you can make your own.
- A few bottles of water in case you are stranded for a lengthy period of time.
- Tow strap
- A silver emergency blanket for every member of your family (they are super cheap and can come in handy in lots of ways)
Ok. So I think that’s a pretty good start to a good vehicle kit and all of that can fit in a medium size duffle bag if packed well. Before I leave you with this post I want to tell you a quick story to show why being prepared for emergencies in your vehicle is so important. We had a particularly bad arctic blast during the winter of 2013 in North Texas. It resulted in large accumulations of ice that built up quickly on the roadways. I was on duty and for the next 24 hours we watched road conditions all over North Texas deteriorate leaving entire swaths of major roads and Interstates closed with thousands of drivers and vehicles stranded on the roadways with no way to get them anywhere. Those who were able to make their way to the few hotels along the highways had already filled them to maximum capacity. Road crews were working around the clock to try to clear impassable areas but the damage was done. Thousands of people spent the next 24-48 hours living in their stranded vehicles. 4 x 4 fire trucks were carrying water to people to keep them hydrated and assisting our ambulances in getting to those with critical medical emergencies who did not have important medical devices or medications with them when they left home. There simply wasn’t enough emergency services left to go around to help those who were healthy enough to survive the freezing conditions. Had those drivers been better prepared with the above items they could have kept warm with blankets, had water to drink, ropes to pull them out should a capable 4 wheel drive vehicle happen by that could pull them out. A little bit of preparedness would have gone a long way. A first aid kit would have meant that they could have treated minor medical problems instead of tying up medical crews that were stretched far to thin. Please let their mistakes be a lesson to you to heed my advice and stock up your vehicle. We aren’t talking an apocalyptic scenario. This was a simple ice storm that morphed into emergencies for many who never gave walking out the door and firing up their car another thought on that winter day. Have a great day and God bless!
*No offense is intended to those preparing for the zombie apocalypse. This graphic is meant to draw attention to the serious nature of preparedness for everyday emergencies.
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