A long three-day weekend is coming up and you’ve been looking forward to escaping to the mountains. You load your family and dog into your SUV and begin the 12 hour trip, winding through meadows and creeks along the way. You’re thoroughly enjoying the road trip, singing songs with your kids and enjoying the scenery when suddenly, you hit a bump in the road and your car engine stalls. You get out to investigate but it’s quickly growing dark outside and your cell phone is dead. The last town was five miles back – too far to walk. If only you’d taken the time to pack that Roadside Emergency Kit you’d read about on the internet. Now, there’s nothing to do but wait until daylight and hope another car passes.
A Roadside Emergency Kit can help when an emergency strikes out on the road. It’s much better to be prepared and not need it than to need it and not be prepared. But before you even leave for a trip, you should perform some basic checks on your vehicle to ensure it is running smoothly and you won’t be stranded. First, your spare tire should be checked to make sure it is inflated properly and will work if you need to use it. Second, make sure you have a car jack and lug wrench in your vehicle and know how to use both in the event that you need to change a tire. In addition, bring a cell phone charger that can be plugged into your car with you to keep your cell phone charging as you drive.
The California Office of Transportation Safety (OTS) recommends that you keep the following items in your car as part of a Roadside Emergency Kit:
- Fresh bottled waters
- Extra vehicle fuses
- Small tool kit
- 12 foot jumper cables
- Four 15–minute roadside flares
- Emergency Red Reflector Triangles
- First Aid Kit
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Tire pressure gauge
- Roll of duct tape
- A HELP sign at least 8 inches
- Fresh energy bars
- Heavy duty nylon bag to keep the small items together
- Plastic tarp
In addition, the OTS recommends the following alternative items that aren’t essential but could prove useful in the right situation:
- Tire inflator ‘fixa flat’
- A quart of motor oil
- Spray bottle with washer fluid
- Pocket knife
- Ice scraper
- Paper towels
- Pen and paper
- Bungee cord at least 12 inches
- Rain pancho
- Cable ties
- Work gloves
- Small fire extinguisher ABC rated
Taking these precautionary steps and putting together a Roadside Emergency Kit will give you peace of mind on your next road trip and ensure that your vacation is a success.
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