Being prepared in an emergency, or even if it is less dire and you just become stranded, is an important part of being a responsible driver. Now it is likely that many motorists will have a mobile phone or GPS, so the idea of being stranded seems practically impossible, but it is not out of the realm of possibilities, so it is better to be ready in case that happens. Once a Roadside Preparedness Kit is assembled and placed in the vehicle and it will be there when it is needed.
Here are some things that every vehicle should absolutely have in case of an emergency:
- Flashlight – try to find the kind that you wind to charge. That way you’ll always have batteries.
- Multipurpose knife/tool – Swiss Army or Leatherman type with several different tools.
- A pencil and paper – graphite in the pencil never dries out like ink would.
- Roadside flares
- Small First Aid kit – familiarize yourself with the contents and how to use them
- Tire inflator
- A rag or two
- Tire pressure gauge (many people carry this with them in the glove box. Keeping your tires properly inflated gets you better gas mileage and can prevent unnecessary tire wear)
Tire changing equipment is not listed here, because that is an absolute essential – don’t leave home without it – and most newer cars have a built in jack and lug wrench.
Other, less essential, but very handy things to tuck into a Roadside Kit are:
- Adjustable wrench
- Blanket – put on the essential list in the winter months
- Ice scraper – also essential in winter months)
- Spray bottle with washer fluid
- One quart of oil
- Extra fuses
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Gallon of antifreeze
- Help sign
- Jumper cables
- Roll of duct tape
- Roll of paper towels
- Bottled water (These last two items have to be rotated out or they will spoil)
- Snack or energy bars
All of these items can be contained in a heavy-duty bag and if packed tightly can take up less trunk space. Take a bit of time to learn how to use all of the items and take a look every so often, so that you remember what is in there. Other than that you can tick that off of your to-do list and rest easy.
Roadside tyre changing
When a flat or blowout occurs on the side of the road, taking a few steps to keep you and your passengers safe is a vital step to the tire changing process.
When possible, pull off of the road entirely to a flat surface such as a parking lot or driveway. If you are on the freeway, try to pull onto a side street where there is less traffic. But under all circumstances, try to get as far away from quickly moving traffic or vehicles as possible. If you are by yourself that means your attention is going to be on the task of changing the tire, and you won’t be able to keep an eye on cars coming toward you.
Changing a tire on the freeway is dangerous, so the task should be done as quickly, but as safely as possible.
After the car is in a safe place, be sure to put it in park, or with a stick shift keep it in gear. Apply the parking break. Locate the spare tire, the lug wrench and the tire jack. The spare tire should always be in good repair with the appropriately pounds per square inch of inflation.
Bring the spare around and place it near. Loosen the lug nuts in a star shape, keeping them on, but loose enough that you can remove them by hand when you are ready.
Taking the tire jack, place it close to the tire that is flat, but in a place under the car that can hold the weight when the jack is elevated. pump up the jack until the vehicle is elevated just enough to remove the tire.
Remove the lugs and replace the flat with the spare. Try to get the spare on as evenly as possible and put the lugs on – again in a star shape. Don’t fully tighten, but get them relatively tight. The spare should be in evenly, both on the bolts and front to back.
Release the car jack and lower the car back down to the ground. Tighten the lugs, again using the star shape and get them as tight as possible.
As you fully stand up, be sure not to step into traffic. Collect all of your belongings and put them in the vehicle. Safel pull back into traffic.
Don’t forget to repair or replace the flat soon after. If you get another flat, you want to be prepared.