Being prepared is not just for the Boy Scouts anymore. Everyone one should be prepared for anything that happens whether it be at home, office, or on the road.
This is a true story that happened to us and why we carry emergency roadside kits in both of our vehicles and we have AAA.
We were heading home after a fun day showing horses. It was about 11:00pm and the highway we were on was dark – hardly any lights at all. All of a sudden the alternator quits charging the lights go dim and the truck is slowly losing power.
We carefully pull over to the shoulder as far off as we can go and shut the truck down. Unfortunately we had no battery left to even run hazards. We pulled out our emergency roadside kit, found the flares and reflector squares and set them up.
I gave our horses an extra flake of good Alfalfa hay to keep them busy in the trailer. Kit tends to get anxious when we are not moving.
Bear (DH) pops the hood, while I grab the headlamp and flashlight out of the kit. If you are working on a vehicle at night it is better to have a headlamp so both hands are free (we have both a headlamp and a flashlight in our kit). We also put on the reflective vests just to make sure that we were seen by any on-coming traffic. Bear found the problem fairly quickly. Somehow a wire connecting the Alternator had been worn in two! He told me to get the electrical tape and wire stripper out of the kit. Within minutes Bear had the wiring fixed and made sure that it would not rub and cause the same problem.
Great, except we now had another problem, there was not enough battery left to start the truck! Luckily for us we had some friends who saw us on the side of the road (they were leaving the horse show behind us) and had stopped to check on us. They called another friend who drove his truck down and we were able to use our jumper cables and his truck to start our truck and get back on the road. If we had not had friends who stopped and were in a cell phone coverage area I would have called AAA to come out and jump our truck.
Had we not had the emergency kit we would not have been able to quickly get a safety net around us – by that I mean the reflectors, roadside flares, and reflective vests to ensure that people saw us on the side of the road. Too many accidents have happened on the shoulders and I did not want to take any chances. I made sure that the flares and reflectors were placed far enough out to warn people of our vehicle and trailer.
When it comes to traveling any distance, a roadside emergency kit could mean the difference between being stuck on the side of the road or getting back on the road. Every vehicle should have at least a basic emergency roadside kit; yet most of us never carry nor think about roadside emergencies until it is too late.
Being prepared for anything is what these articles, I hope, will get you motivated to think about your own safety. Even if you go out and purchase the basic kit from Wal-Mart or Advanced Auto then you have made the first step.
So, what should be in a basic kit? There are basics that every kit should have and then I have customized ours by adding other items. The additional items are entirely up to you. What I am giving you is what we have in ours to give you a starting point.
Some of the basic items include:
· 12-foot jumper cables
· Six 15-minute roadside flares
· Four Reflective Triangles
· Two quarts of oil
· Gallon of antifreeze
· First aid kit – including an assortment of bandages, gauze, adhesive tape, antiseptic cream, instant ice/heat compresses, scissors, and aspirin/tylenol
· Blanket – solar blankets(in sporting goods department) OR Walmart has a nice blanket for $4.98
· Extra fuses
· Flashlight and extra batteries
· screwdrivers – You can bet a multi-tool that has both flat and philips head
· Vise Grips
· Adjustable wrench
· Tire inflator (such as a Fix-A-Flat – use this as a last resort)
· Small air compressor – plugs into your cigarette lighter
· Tire pressure gauge
· Roll of paper towels & wet wipes for clean-up
· Roll of duct tape
· Spray bottle with washer fluid – ( we use RainX)
· Ice scraper
· Pen and paper
· Help sign
· Granola or energy bars
· Bottled water
· Metal Coffee can with small amount of sand in bottom, matches and candles (small tea candles will do) – if you are stuck in your vehicle for a time and cannot run the heater this will make a small heater. It does work!
· We also have a bag of kitty litter for traction if we get stuck.
· Heavy-duty nylon bag OR Plastic tote to carry it all in.
Now you are probably thinking – How does she think that I am ever going to get all of that in my Pinto? If you are space challenged with your vehicle then you might need to reduce the basic version with two roadside flares, a quart of oil, small first aid kit, extra fuses, flashlight/headlamp, Leatherman Tool or any multi-purpose tool, tire inflator, rags, pocket knife , pen and paper, solar blanket, and a help sign will not take up too much trunk space.
There are a few companies that have pre-assembled emergency roadside kits that you can purchase. Emergency Essentials has several kits pre-assembled that will meet or exceed your needs and they are very reasonably priced. Check out their website – even if you do not purchase a kit, it might give you some ideas for your own.
Now that you have put your kits together, if you use it be sure to replace what has been used. Keep a list of items and replenish as necessary. We review our kits twice a year, once in January and then again in June/July to ensure everything is up to date and nothing has expired, broken, or leaked.
I hope this has got you to thinking about “Being Prepared for Anything”. Remember, customize to fit YOUR families needs. If the pre-assembled works for you and is within your budget then use that – if you are on a tight budget work to get these items over time. Baby Steps!
Next week we will discuss your Household Tool Kit – this article was a bit longer than I had anticipated.