By the way, when I use the word, “emergency” I ‘m being melodramatic. Being able to deal with minor upset is often just as important as dealing with a major incident. Indeed, the ability to do so will often prevent an inconvenience blowing up and becoming a major catastrophe.
This is a special post for Father’s Day – not because I think its only chaps who need to know this stuff, but rather because I want to dedicate it to my Dad, who always looked after this sort of thing when I was growing up. He is much missed.
The two best ways to deal with a crisis are:
… is better than cure. So:
- Keeping your car well maintained will help prevent accidents and emergencies on the road.
- Plan your journeys in advance
- Don’t let your fuel run low (why not set an alarm on your phone to remind you to check it regularly?)
As they say in the aviation world:
Truly superior pilots are those who use their superior judgement to avoid those situations where they might have to use their superior skills.
When all else fails, you need to take appropriate emergency action. To this end:
- Keep the right equipment in your car
- Learn the knowledge and skills you’ll need to deal with any emergency
How Do I Deal with a Crisis when it Happens?
The main thing to remember in an emergency:
- Stay safe
- Don’t make things worse
For example, if you’re stranded, your preferred course of action would be to:
- Stay in your car
- Put on your hazard lights
- Call for help
- Wait until it arrives
What Equipment Do I Need?
I compiled this list of useful equipment for the car, especially so that we can cope with crisis when we’re out and about. To tell the truth, I don’t have all this gear my car at the moment, but the list has proven invaluable in identifying gaps in our current provision. I hope it can help you, too.
By the way, remember that the best equipment is no use to you unless you:
- Have it with you when you need it
- Keep it in good working order
- Remember to use it when you need to
- Are able to get at it when required
- Are able to use it safely and effectively
But without further ado, here’s my list:
Take Care of People’s Health and Hygiene Needs
You may need to deal with injury:
- First Aid Kit
To be ready for a long stay:
- Toilet tissue
- Long life drinking water
- Long life emergency food ration
And to protect your hands:
- Work gloves
Be Prepared for All Weathers
- Rain poncho
- Foil blanket
- Hand warmers
Snow + Ice
- Snow shovel
- Cat litter. It works as well as sand beneath the tires for traction and weighs less.
- Windshield ice scraper.
- De-Icer spray
- Sun glasses
In an emergency, it is important to be able to see and to be seen.
If you need to stop in the dark or in an awkward spot then one of your first priorities is to make yourself visible to others. Primarily, this is to prevent additional accidents, but has the additional benefit that it will enable helpers to locate you easily. If it is safe to do so, stay in or near your vehicle, as this will make you a lot easier to find.
The following can help:
- Warning triangle
- Emergency light sticks
- High visibility vest
- Torch and batteries
You may also need to improve your ability to see, especially if you decide make emergency repairs or if you end up on foot. To this end, a good torch is essential – I recommend a head torch as this will enable you to work hands-free if you need to. Also, if you wear glasses or contact lenses, it doesn’t do any harm to keep a spare pair in the car, jut in case something happens to your regular set.
So, pack the following:
- Head torch
- Spare glasses
I suggest making a note in your calendar to check torch batteries regularly, and replace them regularly.
Be Ready to Make Emergency Repairs
A wide range of breakdowns can be tackled with a few basic tools. Ideally, you should get to know how to use your tools yourself, but even if you don’t have the know-how, carrying the right gear is a good idea anyway – you never know who’ll be available when you get into trouble.
- Foot pump
- Tire gauge
- Foam tire sealant
- Duct tape
- Empty fuel can
- Oil (appropriate for your vehicle)
- Spare bulb kit (the right set for your vehicle)
- Notepad and pen
Having the right information available can be very beneficial:
- Your car’s owner’s manual
- Emergency plans
- Emergency numbers
- Breakdown service
- Family and friends
- You regular garage
- Insurance details
- Medical details
Make Escape Possible
In extreme cases, it may need to escape your vehicle or help others escape from theirs. If so, the following could be useful:
- Emergency Glass Hammer
- Seat belt cutter
Obviously, kit like these needs to be kept within reach if you ever need to use them to free yourself.
Be Prepared to Get Help
Sometimes you can enlist help from others:
- Cell phone
- Sturdy boots
And they can get you moving:
- Tow Rope
- Jumper cables
Be Ready to Tackle a Small Fire
- Fire Extinguisher
Keep it All Clean and Tidy
- Paper towels
- Something to store it all in
- Image via shutterstock, used under licence.