Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Making an Emergency Car Kit

What Supplies to Pack to Be Prepared

With winter looming, it's time to check my emergency car kit for essential supplies. I've found it both comforting and practical to be prepared for the worst should my car break down in the middle of nowhere during a snowstorm. The list of items is simple to gather, relatively inexpensive, and adds little in the way of hindering gas mileage. Grab these items yourself, and be prepared.

Emergency Communications


I have to have a cell phone in my emergency car kit. It will be the number one tool I would use to get myself out of a jam. If I wanted to go a step further in case I forget mine at home, I would purchase a pre-paid phone like the Tracfone brand sold at Wal-Mart. I can pick up a Samsung S150G for less than $10, and a calling card for the same price. Toss these along with the charger it comes with into my glove compartment and I'm loaded for bear.

AAA For Peace of Mind
 
AAA will respond to a member's call for assistance, even if that member is in someone else's car. Need a jump? They will be there. Flat tire? Out of gas? Need a tow? You got it. I've been a member for years, and I can say they are worth every penny. With basic memberships starting at $46 a year, you can't lose.

Tools for Safety
 
There are a few items I keep handy in case of minor disaster, and having them within reach ensures I won't be stuck on a back road twiddling my thumbs.

A person can freeze like a Popsicle if hindered by a dead car battery in winter. I make sure to have a starter like the one made by Duralast in my trunk. At my local Autozone it goes for $49. I keep it charged, checking it once a week so it will be ready when needed.

I also make sure to have a flashlight available, stored with the batteries removed. I keep them in their packs for a longer storage life in the same area as my first aid kit.
  Remember How to Change a Flat Tire?
 
When's the last time you checked your spare tire? Is the jack working? Is it there? I will pull these out to check them in October to be safe. If the tire's flat, I'll patch it until I can buy a new one.


Traction
 
This is a big one up here in the frozen North East for an emergency car kit. Going anywhere without sand bags in your trunk is like begging for trouble. What folks tend to forget is that if there's no traction under your tire, it doesn't matter if you have 4-wheel-drive. It's then called no-wheel-drive. Sand in the trunk not only can be used on ice under your treads, but also adds weight to the rear to help vehicle stability and road grip.


Comfort Items
 
I might be back-ended into a snow bank for a while, so it's time to calm my nerves, stay warm, and get comfortable.


For starters, I'm in the habit of keeping one or two bottles of water in the car at all times, and swap them out every few weeks to keep it fresh.

A little emergency rations never hurt, so I visit my local army surplus store or Amazon.com and grab some meals ready to eat, or MREs. I might also get some canned goodies like sardines, oysters, or cocktail weenies to spice up the menu. I've even thought of purchasing a cup warmer with a car lighter plug like this one from Think Geek and to brew a cup or two of cocoa. Come to think of it, Christmas is around the corner...


I have on hand a few blankets to help augment, or replace, the heater in my car in my emergency car kit. Wool is best, but anything that is heavy and will wrap around me to conserve heat will do.

And the one last thing I always have in my car, no matter the season, is a few good books. I could be in the quiet of the vast wilderness for a few hours waiting for help, so why not use the time wisely to catch up on my reading list? I'd recommended staying away from the Russian masters in this instance, as they tended to write bleakly about snow storms- have you read Zhivago, or Ivan Denisovitch for that matter? The idea is to keep our spirits up!

A nice copy of Jack London's, "To Build a Fire", in the emergency car kit perhaps?