Are you prepared for an emergency if you are in your vehicle?
It goes by a lot of different names, but having a survival kit, or bug out bag, in your vehicle has benefits to both you and others you might come across. Personally, I have used my kit more to help others. This brings up an important point if you carry it know how to use it. I have come across many people that are stranded on the side of the road, only to find out they don’t know how to change a tire or jump-start a vehicle. Knowing some basic tasks is very important. There are countless YouTube videos about everything you can think of, but if you would like more information let me know (comment below and I will get back to you).
Yes, you can rely on your friends, family, and even AAA if you are stranded. If you are like me, you travel in places where there is no reception or getting a tow truck to your location would be very difficult. Not to mention, what if you are awakened in the middle of the night to find your house on fire…the only thing you grab is your loved ones and car keys.
I feel that I need to mention this and figure I’ll get it out of the way. I do my best to always keep my gas tank above empty. This has helped me so much over the last two years (between the fires in CA and the constant PG&E power outages). Another thing to keep an eye on is your tire pressure, tire tread, and the fluid levels like your oil and Antifreeze. I always make sure to do a quick check before leaving on a road trip as well. Speaking of tires, having good tires for the season you are in is best. I generally buy the all-season tires.
In a nutshell, always keep your awareness of what is going on around you. I have always been thought to keep your head on a swivel, but that is another post altogether.
If you are on a roadway and it is raining/snowing like crazy keep an eye out for down trees and power lines. If you are in areas where it floods please never go past a sign that says something to the effect of, ‘flooded road do not enter.’ This happens all the time and then they get stuck and now we need to deal with a vehicle that could pose numerous issues.
What Items to Keep in Your Vehicle
There are so many items you can keep in your vehicle and just as many ways on how to store them. I will try my best to keep this list straight forward. I will also post some links to the items at a later time to make it super easy to see what I’m talking about…it will also help me to keep this list up-to-date.
Well here is the quick and dirty list I have come up with, in no particular order:
- Jumper cables, or a cool battery pack that will jump your own vehicle
- Spare tire with jack (amazing on how many vehicles don’t have this or people never check on them just to find out the spare is also flat)
- Maps of the area you are in or going to (got to love road trips!)
- Flares or triangle reflectors
- Window breaker (car escape tool)
- Tire patch kit
- Spare fuses
- First-aid kit, this can be a basic kit or something amazing you put together (might be another post in the future)
- A blanket of some type. They have emergency bivvy or space type blankets too
- Flashlight or even better is a headlamp. Also, make sure you have a set of extra batteries or get a rechargeable light
- Hand sanitizer and individually packaged wipes
- The most item used would be tools (screwdriver, pliers, wrench, knife, hammer)
- Food such as granola bars or emergency food bars. Nobody wants to be hangry
- Sewing kit (you will thank me later)
Extra Items if YOU Have the Room
As I am typing this list, I decided to separate the items into two sections. One reason is that it was a very long list. The other reason is that I do not always keep the below items in my vehicle. It is funny that as you start making a list you realize how much is really out there. Please remember to pick and choose and add your own. As with many lists, this one is what I would consider fluid, as in it is always changing. I would imagine some additional items would be extremely important to you, depending on where you live and what is a common disaster (flooding, earthquakes, etc.).
Here are some additional items to consider:
- Oil, I have friends that say two quarts minimum
- Gas can
- GPS unit (I always have maps as a back up)
- Fire extinguisher
- Flat tire inflation canister, or better yet a 12v tire inflator with a tire patch kit (this is what I use now)
- Glow stick, these are just fun if you’re on a night hike or camping with kids (let’s be real we all like glow sticks)
- Small foldable shovel
- Clothing (gloves, boots, shoes, wool socks, beanie, buff)
- Small backpack or duffel bag
- Paper towels or rags
- Towing strap
- Extra battery packs (very helpful to charge USB type devises like your cell phone)
- Seasonal supplies (chains, rain gear, umbrella, ice scraper to name a few)
- Battery or hand-crank radio
Purchasing a Premade Kit
I know not everyone wants to take the time to build their own kits. This is totally cool. Just remember most of the premade kits do not have quality items and here are some things you want to think about.
The best example I have is a first aid kit I purchased, a long time ago. It was in a plastic case with dividers and had 1,000 items (I might be exaggerating but you get the point). I purchased it I tossed it in the back of my car. Then I needed it, after rock climbing and messing up my shin. It had wipes and band-aids so what more did I need? The band-aids that were in the kit didn’t stick to anything, much less a sweaty leg, and had a plastic-type feel to them. I had to use almost all the one-inch by one-inch disinfectant wipes to get the injury clean.
At this point, I decided I would take a better look at what was in the kit… I was not impressed.
My advice is to get a small duffel bag (I have my own favorite brand but I also like this sort of thing), or a one-gallon Ziploc, and slowly add what you need. If you have the money and want to buy everything you think you need, I would say go for it. But from someone that really enjoys this sort of thing… I would suggest start small and add to it over time. There are the basic first aid items you need all the way up to specialty items.
I have always upgraded my kit little by little. This is mainly due to items I find I use more than others. An example of this is a battery headlamp I keep in my car at all times (one of my most used items). First of all, it’s a pain dealing with batteries all the time. I upgraded the headlamp to a rechargeable one and am very happy with it. Just the other day I was camping and was asked about it, this always makes me smile. When needed, I can plug it in my car to charge it.
Now it’s Your Turn
Always being ready for what life throws at you is important. The lists above are from most of what I have in my vehicle. I could go on and on about how many times they have helped me or another motorist out. It even pays off when you decide to go on a random hike, and you have what you need to enjoy it (real shoes, pants, sweatshirt, bug spray, a hat, water, snack, and a small bag to carry it in)…I mention this because it happened yesterday!
Now for the most exciting part of this post! It’s your turn!
Did I miss something or is there anything you have that I didn’t list? Leave a comment below! This is a list that is always expanding and changing. I love to hear what others are using and even the latest and greatest I might not have thought of.