I’m going to share a quick story; not because it was very prominent in life’s experiences, but because it made me think.
I was making the four hour commute today back from the work place to my home when I stopped at a small mountain scenic overlook to take care of business. I was walking back to the car when I saw a second vehicle pull off and the driver get out and open his hood. Naturally I walked over to see what I could do to help…in this case engine oil was splattered down the side of the vehicle and speckled all over the engine. I asked him what was up and he said the engine oil was leaking from somewhere; but looking neither of us could locate the source of the leak. We both stood and looked at the engine like somehow it would fix itself. He asked how far the nearest town was and I replied 15 minutes and all downhill. The man had a quart or two and I ran to see what I had to help top the guy off…nothing. I apologized because I usually carry a quart or two for emergencies. I had used it all in my last oil change and not replenished my stock. I offered a ride but he said the quart he threw in should get him to town.
I love being prepared for situations and I was frustrated with myself. We parted and I realized that I needed to go back through my car and make sure I had the essentials that I typically carry. And it makes for some good ideas for an article. I hope you will share recommendations in the comments block if you have emergency supplies that you carry.
If you don’t have emergency supplies in your vehicle you should stock up. You might be surprised how little room this takes up in the trunk of your car, and most of it can fit into a plastic tote box. And you will be happy with the comfort it gives you not only for long trips but just running to and from work. As a Samaritan you will also have the opportunity to help others when you come across them and not feel worthless like I did. Being able to do little on the spot fix its can also save you an enormous amount of time and keep you from being dependent on friends or the charities of others.
- Oil, coolant/anti-freeze, transmission fluid, etc. You don’t have to throw five gallon jugs of the stuff into your car; but if you over heat or spring a leak these can help you limp back to town without your entire engine seizing up. Carrying these fluids just makes obvious sense to me.
- A cell phone charger with a 9V adapter. We don’t always leave home with a fully charged phone; but if you notice it is low plug it in. This way at least your phone is charged when your vehicle dies on an isolated road. There are very few roads these days that don’t have some sort of service so odds are you won’t break down in an area without coverage.
- Blankets. Even if the weather is good, you might have to spend a night on location, primarily if you are traveling late at night. It doesn’t have to be below freezing for a person to get hypothermia.
- Bottled water. I always keep a case of bottled water in my car. It’s typically going to be halfway depleted in my case, but keeping hydration on hand is a no-brainer.
- Food. Throw in some high energy snacks or even a few MREs. The reasoning is similar to water; it makes sense and you might be there for a while. If it is cold then your body will be burning through calories at a much faster rate than normal.
- Maps or GPS. I’m old fashioned, I like maps; but GPS makes sense, although like a cell phone, you might not always have good satellite reception and the batteries can die. I’ve used maps more than once when driving through unfamiliar parts of the US.
- Jumper cables. We don’t mean to; but too often we leave something on in our car and its dead the next morning, or you might have a bad battery; either way, keep a set of cables in your trunk.
- First aid kit. This doesn’t have to be extravagant; but plan for some of the basics in the advent of a car accident. Depending on your level of training this might range from band aids for a split open knuckle to tourniquets for excessive bleeding.
- Flat tire kit. Another no-brainer. If you’re not sure you have all the tools you need, simply try pulling your tire off and putting your spare on. This will get you practiced and you’ll find out quickly what you are deficient. The other day I realized I needed a socket adapter for the lug nuts on my wife’s car because they were not a standard style. Luckily the flat was discovered while she was in the driveway and I only have to drive a few blocks to buy one.
- Road flares. You will find these in most premade emergency car kits. If you have an issue at night pop a few of these and everyone knows something serious is up. Or if you simply want to feel special while changing your tire go ahead and light one up.
- Flashlight. Keep a flashlight with extra batteries. This is yet another no-brainer.
- WD-40. This can be great for loosening stubborn bolts along with many other issues you might encounter.
- Fire extinguisher. This might be excessive, but a little 2.5 lb extinguisher might be something to consider for emergencies. I’ve never had an engine catch fire; but I’ve seen wrecked cars catch fire and one vehicle go up from overheating and electric issues. I’ve got a 5 lb extinguisher in my trunk and it doesn’t take up much room at all.
- Dry clothes. This will vary depending on the weather. If it is rainy or snowy, or just cold like it often gets in Idaho think about throwing a change of clothes in your vehicle. In winter I throw a jacket, gloves, and snow boots into my trunk; during the summer I just throw a hoodie into my back seat.
- Duct tape. Another no-brainer. And who knows what you might be able to put back together in a pinch. On cars I’ve usually used this to spot fix broken windows.
- Tire chains. These are just for winter. Some winter roads require traction tires or chains before you can even legally drive on them during the winter months. Living in Idaho I have used these many times. Once on, make sure you follow the speed restrains recommended by the manufacturer or the things will come to pieces and damage your car.
- Tool kit. Not complex; throw in a simple socket set, adjustable wrench and such.
- The last thing that I typically have in my car, which does fulfill some of these other recommendations, is my bug-out-bag. Have I ever had to use it? No. But who’s to say when the apocalypse will hit.