Shorter and wetter days are soon upon us. There’s more risk driving this time of year. Let’s be prepared.
Whether it’s a car accident or a breakdown, bad things happen while driving. It seems like we hear about someone having a “bad day on the road” every week. If it’s not us, or our friends, it’s a friend of a friend. We are closer than “6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon” when it comes to car accidents or breakdowns.
It’s not a question of “will something happen?”
It’s always a question of “when will something happen?” and “am I ready?”
Make a list
I don’t usually do a lot of lists in my articles, but today is an exception. Print this out, then go over it as a family and add to it things that I might have missed.
So, let’s make a “Bad Day on the Road” list right now.
The bare-minimum kit
If you aren’t much into planning; if you are a kind of “grab and go” person, you can still prepare a small kit of essentials for your vehicle. It’s easy, and you should consider doing it today.
Proof of insurance card
Vehicle registration card
Insurance agent name and number
Phone charger (and an extra phone battery pack too)
Small flashlight and extra batteries
List of emergency contacts written on a 3x5 card (in case you are unconscious)
List of any medical conditions you have, also written on a 3x5 card
Band-aids and duct tape
Warm blanket and a coat in the winter
Auto escape tool, for cutting seat belts and breaking windows in an emergency
IN THE TRUNK:
More blankets and coats
Flares, warning lights, reflective triangles or safety cones
The better kit
OK... there are more things that really should be added to that list. These are things you’ll wish you had, especially if you run off the road, or are stranded waiting for help. So, add these to the list above:
INSIDE VEHICLE: Energy bars
Complete first-aid kit
Large flashlight and extra battery
Umbrella and/or rain poncho
Matches or lighter
Multitool (plyers, knife, screwdriver)
IN THE TRUNK:
Change of clothes
Windshield washer fluid
Air pressure gage
Fix-a-flat spray for short-term tire sealing
Tire changing tools and a good spare tire
More duct tape (“the handyman’s secret weapon”)
Cat litter and carpet remnant (for tire traction)
The ready-for-almost-anything kit
Add these to your lists above, and you’ll feel downright confident should something happen:
Playing cards to pass the time
Tarp, bungy cords, and rope
Extra antifreeze and oil
Clean and empty, safety-approved gas can
Portable battery charger
Basic tool kit... even if you aren’t a mechanic, one may stop to help.
1. Remember to check your tire pressure, make sure tire tread is good, check your oil and fluid levels, and don’t ignore that new weird noise your car is making. Your mechanic is car’s friend. Don’t ignore obvious warning signs.
2. Consider getting roadside assistance (towing) coverage if you don’t already have it.
3. Make sure your insurance coverage is up to date. Call your agent — especially if it’s been a while.