What to Keep in Your Car in Case of an Emergency
youve never broken down in your car, consider yourself one of the lucky
ones. But keep in mind luck has a tendency to run out, usually at the most inopportune
times. Winter months and dark country roads seem to be when Lady Luck takes her
vacation. Cold weather, road salt and mud, ice and slush can all cause a plethora
of surprises, even if you take care of you car. Be prepared.
The first thing
you need to understand and accept is that this can happen to you. Dont allow
yourself to fall into that false sense of security that it wont because
you take your car to the shop for all its maintenance check-ups right on schedule.
Thats hogwash. Sure, as long as you keep the car on clean roads in mild
weather you can be relatively confident you wont get stuck. But thats
not reality for most Americans. Were a nation of active people who go places
and do things with our cars.
we get into the list of what to always keep in your trunk or back of your SUV,
here are a few scenarios of what can go wrong that might cause you to get stuck
and have to wait for help. First, there are the traditional challenges such as
flat tires, engine overheating, running out of gas, or an electric failure. You
may be able to fix or prevent some of these things yourself; others will require
you to wait for help. All will have you stranded by the roadside for at least
are weather-related problems such as running off the road on slippery roads, an
accident, windows too dirty to see through, mud sucked up into your engine, heavy
rain, blizzard, tornado; weather that would force you off the road until it passes.
Any one of these situations could detain you for hours.
of these things are preventable, however, impossible to predict. Think back into your own driving history or that of someone close
to you. Has this happened to you or them?
a terrible inconvenience for men, most of whom might flag someone down for a lift
or help. For women, it can be terrifying and even life threatening. ABC News recently
ran an undercover story to show women vs. men broken down by the side of the road.
Both stood outside their cars with the hood up to indicate there was a problem.
Men always stopped for women, men almost never stopped for other men. The problem
for stranded women is you never know what kind of assistance a stranger has in
youre well prepared with everything you need in
your car, you shouldnt have to accept any help
from strangers or even leave the car. However, no matter
who breaks down — men or women — they all need the
same things in case of a roadside emergency.
should always carry a working cell phone, even if you
only use it for emergencies. A minimum monthly cell
phone plan these days is as good as a life insurance
policy. Keep this in your car where its easily
accessible, and not in your trunk. Make sure your battery
is charged before you leave home. If you have an adapter
for the car, leave it in your glove compartment at all
always have a gallon of bottled water in the car. Keep an extra bottle of windshield fluid in
your car as well. You also want to have one or two warm blankets,
a flashlight with extra batteries, and duct tape. Dont
laugh, the many creative uses of duct tape boggles the mind, as it's handy for
the strangest things.
Most of this stuff can be thrown is a duffle bag or even a
box so it doesnt roll around all over your car. Keep it all together, except
for the cell phone, which you should keep with you.
most importantly, know where you are. Sounds funny, doesnt it? But its
absolutely astonishing at how many people drive places without paying attention
to street names, roadside signs or exit numbers. When you break down and then
call for help, this will be the first question the police or roadside assistance
dispatch will ask so they can get to you quickly to assist you. If you werent
paying attention to your location, that means youll end up waiting much
longer while they look for you.
less time you spend alone in your car parked on the side of the road, the safer
youll be. If a stranger does approach your car while waiting, keep the doors
locked and dont roll down the window. Hold up your cell phone and indicate
help is on the way. This will help deter the bad guys from bad ideas.
No one wants
to breakdown or wait on the roadside for help, but dont think it couldnt
happen to you. So be aware and be prepared. Youll be happy you are if that
Story: WINTER EMERGENCY KIT]
BREAKDOWN SAFETY TIPS -
Insurance Information Institute