20 September 2011

Prep30: Keep some basic emergency tools and supplies in your vehicle

Having a general, basic emergency kit in your house is essential, and putting together an evacuation kit is important too. However, for those of us that drive an automobile, preparedness also means keeping a dedicated emergency kit our vehicle. Below are some basics tips on building your car kit:
  1. Jumper cables: These are a mainstay in any vehicle emergency kit. You can find some relatively inexpensive ones, but it's worth buying heavy-gauge cables. You'll probably want at least 12-foot long cables to ensure that you can reach from the battery of one car to the other. Do be sure you know how to safely jump-start your car, however.

  2. LED flashlight: Having and LED flashlight will mean longer battery life and much less chance of the bulbs going out. There are many to choose from, and some are very inexpensive, so you may want to have a couple, maybe of different kinds. Consider a hand-cranked flashlight, so you don't have to worry about the batteries being dead when you really need the light.

  3. Emergency Shovel: This is more critical when you're driving in a potentially snowy climate. However, a shovel can be useful when stuck in the mud too. There are many small or folding shovels available, but I like the one linked here because it's lightweight and compact, yet very sturdy when ready to use. Plus, it has a bit more surface area than other folding shovels I've encountered.

  4. Emergency Thermal Blankets: The linked mylar blankets are great for an emergency. Of course, any spare blankets you have will work fine too. The important thing is to have some when you're stuck somewhere and it's cold out!

  5. Bottles of water: Having bottles of water in your car is a good idea in case you're stranded. I prefer stainless steel ones since they're more durable and have less chance of leaching any chemicals into the water as it's stored in a variety of temperatures. Be sure to not fill the bottles all the way; leave some headspace, especially in areas where the water might freeze.

  6. Tools: At bare minimum, you should carry a multitool; they range from inexpensive to very expensive, so you should be able to readily find one with the tools you want and price point you can afford. In addition, it's a good idea to consider putting together (or buying) as small kit of tools to keep in your car. A small, inexpensive set like this 39-piece general tool set would cover many of the tasks you might encounter. A more robust set like this 130-piece kit is still compact enough, but would cover the majority of your needs.

  7. Gloves: A good set of basic gloves is probably adequate. These can help protect your hands when your working on or around your car, and will help keep you warm in colder weather.

  8. Gas can: You should carry an empty gas can so that you have one ready to fill in case you run out of gas in your car. By the way, carrying a full can of gas can be problematic, from a safety and/or legality standpoint. Plus, you have to be sure to treat the fuel to allow it to remain useful as it's stored.

  9. Road flares: You can buy the old-fashioned incendiary road flares, but they generally last only a short time — as little as 15 minutes! You may want to consider electronic LED Emergency Beacon Flares, which will get you more hours of warning time for other motorists, without the hazards of burning flares.

  10. Roadside warning triangles: As an alternative to road flares (or perhaps in addition to), you may want to keep a set of warning triangles in your kit in order to forewarn other drivers of your incapacitated vehicle.

  11. First aid kit: Whether you build one or buy one, have some basic first aid supplies in your vehicle.

  12. Printed state map: Be sure to have an actual paper map of the state(s) you frequently travel within. Having a GPS device is very helpful, but have a printed backup in case your electronic device isn't working for some reason.

  13. Storage container(s): It's very helpful to keep your emergency gear in some kind of container. A plastic storage bin is ideal, since it will keep road dust out, as well as any water, should your truck have a leak. If a larger bin won't work for you, try smaller ones. The main thing is to keep your emergency gear clean, dry, and together, so that it's ready when you need it.

  14. Buying a car kit instead: To save some time, you can purchase a preassembled car emergency kit. However, bear in mind that you'll only get some of the above items; you'll still need to gather the other ones on your own.

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