Monday, December 29, 2008

Preparing Your Car for Emergencies

How prepared would you be if you were stranded on the side of the road in -10 degree weather?
Do you know what essentials should be in your trunk that could save your life?
How to Make an Emergency Kit for your Car
There are some critical elements to an emergency kit for your car. Here recommendations from the pros:

*Blankets, scarves, gloves, extra clothes: Wool or thermal blankets are better for colder climates. Bringing a set of extra clothes is a good idea in case your clothes get wet, tear, or soiled.

*Kitty litter and a small shovel: Kitty litter can be sprinkled around tires to give snow, ice or any slick surface some traction. A shovel is nice to help dig your tires out…should they get stuck in thick snow.
*Flares, flashlight, cell phone: Flares are a great way to signal other drivers in case of an emergency. Flares also help warn other cars of your stalled vehicle. The flashlight is a no-brainer in the dark, and the cell phone is a nice safety device if you have that option. If you cannot afford a monthly service plan, try finding a prepaid cell phone option that only charges you when you use it. These are usually more expensive per minute, but are a cheaper alternative if you limit your usage to emergencies.
*Auto Club Membership: If you can afford this option, it will help give you some piece of mind. If you have a not-so-reliable car, this might just pay for itself time and again. Auto Clubs often include full services for one small monthly service. You can get your vehicle towed, jump-started, unlocked, etc., in usually less than an hour.

*Jumper cables: If your battery is drained and you need a jump, jumper cables are a must. Make sure they are at least 12 feet long. It is not always easy to fit the charging vehicle adjacent to your stalled vehicle. An even better option is a battery-powered jumpstart. It's the same as the jumper cables, but you can jumpstart your own car using the jumpstart's battery power.

*Two quarts of oil, gallon of antifreeze: Oil leaks and just regular usage can cause levels to become low. Keeping an extra couple of quarts in your trunk is just good practice for being prepared. A gallon of antifreeze or coolant is also a good thing to have on hand. If your car is overheating or working in record cold temps, fresh antifreeze is a must.

*First aid kit: Don't forget to include essentials such as bandages, Band-Aids, gauze, tape, scissors, aspirin (or other pain killer), antiseptic cream or spray, etc.
*Basic tools: In an emergency situation it's a good idea to have basic tools at your finger tips such as flat and Phillips head screwdrivers, pliers, adjustable wrench, etc. Other useful items in this category are a pocket knife, ice scraper, pen and paper (this is especially helpful to write a "HELP" or "CALL 911" sign.)

*Spare tire, jack, tire inflator: Getting stuck with a flat tire is no picnic. Make sure your spare tire is in good condition. Have a jack on hand and when in doubt tire inflator, such as Fix-a-Flat. Also a tire-pressure gauge will help make sure you are not over or under inflating a tire.
*Rags, paper towels, baby wipes, duct tape: Rags, paper towels and baby wipes are great for quick clean ups. Duct tape has a million and one uses, many of which will help in an emergency situation.

*Food and water: Food and water are essential to keep on hand in case of an emergency. Granola, protein, or energy bars have nutrients and are usually high in calories to help you keep up your strength.

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