Emergencies tend to happen when people least expect it and are ill prepared. It's easy to forget that the very same vehicle that we rely on for everything can actually be vulnerable to flat tires, engine problems, or severe weather. The good news is, with some simple preparation, you can usually breeze through most any roadside emergency. Here are a few of the most common situations, and what you need to have packed in your vehicle in order to fix the problem or survive until help arrives.
What You'll Need to Change a Flat Tire
Flat tires are among the most common roadside problems, and most motorists can easily learn how to change a tire. The most important thing to have is your vehicle operator's manual. This booklet will walk you through each step of safely changing a tire. Always keep the following in your car in case of a blowout:
- Spare tire in good shape, fully inflated
- Tire pressure gauge
- Jack with flat board (in case the vehicle is parked on an uneven surface)
- Lug wrench
- Flashlight or compact fluorescent lamp with spare batteries (in case the flat happens at night)
- Reflective cones (to warn other drivers that the vehicle is stranded there)
Follow the instructions in the operator's manual. If the flat tire is on the driver's side of the vehicle and you can't get a safe distance from the lane of traffic, it's best to call for assistance, especially at night. It's particularly easy for other drivers to miss seeing you if you're hunkered down changing a tire. Don't take unnecessary risks if the car isn't in a safe place to change a flat.
What You'll Need in Case You Have Vehicle Troubles
Modern vehicles feature a host of warning lights, some of which signal critical problems that must be addressed immediately, and others that aren't so serious. The engine light, for instance, can signal anything from a catastrophic engine failure to a simple alert that it's time for an engine check. The operator's manual defines each warning light and offers instructions on how to address the problem, so keep this manual handy at all times. In case the problem is serious enough to stop the vehicle and summon help, have these things in the vehicle:
- A tool box for minor repairs
- A flashlight with high quality batteries (such as alkaline Energizer batteries)
- A cell phone and charger to call for help
- Water and snacks (in case it takes awhile for help to arrive)
- Your insurance card to prove you have roadside assistance coverage on the policy
What You'll Need in Case of an Accident
Accidents are scary and usually catch drivers off guard. The first thing to do after an accident is to calm down and assess the situation. Check for injuries and summon help. Don't move an injured person unless there is a danger of fire or they are laying in an unsafe place. Stop oncoming traffic instead of moving an injured person out of the lane of traffic. In case of accident you'll need:
- Your proof of insurance
- A first aid kit
- A camera to photograph the scene of the accident, the damage, and any obstacles that led to the collision, such as a downed tree or flooded roadway
- A blanket to keep injured persons warm
- A flashlight with spare batteries in case the accident happens at night
Don't ever admit fault following an accident. Later, trained insurance adjusters will conduct an investigation to determine fault. Just focus on getting injured people to safety and getting the vehicles out of oncoming traffic. Follow the instructions of emergency responders, and stay in a safe place while help arrives and while emergency workers do their jobs.
What You'll Need if You're Stranded Due to Weather
Occasionally, people get stranded in ice and snow or in the rubble of a flood or tornado. This is scary, but keeping a clear head can help you survive even the most difficult of circumstances. Always keep these things in your car in case you get stranded in bad weather:
- Blankets, gloves, hats, and coats to keep everyone warm and dry
- Fresh water and non-perishable foods
- Flashlights or a compact fluorescent lamp with spare batteries
- A tool kit
- A first aid kit
- Any critical medications that need to be taken regularly
- Sand to pour under tires to get traction in case you're stuck
- Cell phone and charger to call for help
- A reflective vest to wear in case you have to walk for help
- Reflective cones to alert other drivers and emergency workers you are there
Aside from emergency-specific survival equipment, it's always a good idea to keep items like jumper cables, a battery charger, and a cell phone charger in the vehicle with you. Before leaving on an extended trip, have your battery tested to ensure that it’s fully charged. Most auto parts supply stores will do this for free.
Packing emergency supplies can't help you prevent an emergency, but it can make all the difference in your ability to cope with the problem if one does happen.
TES (Telecom Electric Supply Company) carries a wide variety of quality batteries to keep flashlights at the ready in case of a roadside emergency at night. Visit today to see how TES can meet all of your electrical supply needs.