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When was the last time you had a car emergency? Were you prepared? Better yet, do you know how to be prepared?
Emergencies don't have a schedule, they just pop up out of nowhere. Having the right things in your car emergency kit keeps you safer and better prepared for the unexpected.
In Australia, there are all kinds of unexpected situations on the road. There are roadworks, car break downs, being lost in some strange neighbourhoods, getting a flat tyre (or tyres) on a rainy day, and worse - having accidents with other drivers. What we carry in our cars can change the outcome for the better so keep yourself prepared.
If the only things that you keep in your car are old receipts and some coins, it may be time to re-think of what other things your should carry with you in your car.
Having emergency items in your car makes a huge difference to your comfort, safety and the capability to manage car emergencies in the time of need. This not only helps you but also helps others that you come across in certain emergencies. Having car emergency kits will also teach and set a good example to young and inexperienced new drivers. Teaching them the habit of carrying the right items for their car might save their lives someday and they will thank you for it.
These items may not be needed for several days, months or even years but you will feel better once you use them for emergencies.
Now, you’re wondering what those items are, right? Here is the checklist.
Always bring this with you in the car at all times. This is a really helpful book that will tell you how the car works as different cars have different manuals. If you need technical fixing but you are stuck in the middle of the outback, you can always take a look at your car manual and fix the problem yourself. The manual includes tips and instructions on how to change fuses and lightbulbs, top-up fluids, maintain correct tyre pressure and more, including details on what your warranty covers and how to troubleshoot common problems.
Always bring a flashlight when travelling as well as some batteries. This can help you navigate through the night if you get lost and need to stop and look at a map. This is also handy when you need some quick car fix-ups during the night.
Another thing that you can use the flashlight for is to signal other motorists and ask for their help, should you ever get stuck and need some assistance on the road.
Getting flat tyres are the worst, especially if you don’t have a spare. Bring an inflated tyre in your car as well as a jack and wheel lever so you can change the flat tyre when needed. Brick is also useful for wedging under a wheel on the opposite side of the car to provide extra stability when changing a tyre.
There is an endless number of car tyre inflators on the market, from simple hand pumps to powered models. You should always have some portable method of pumping up tyres in your vehicle. Carry a simple hand-held tyre gauge as well, so you can check pressures. Don’t solely rely on Roadside Assistance to change a flat tyre for you, sometimes uncharged phones and no reception can get in the way of this solution.
Always bring an emergency kit!
No one expects you to turn into an instant medical hero at a crash site but having a basic first aid kit in your vehicle can be a big help to yourself and others if there’s a problem. You can buy a pre-made motoring emergency first aid kit or make one yourself.
Additional tip: learn basic emergency medical training. You could potentially help save someone if you know the basics.
If your vehicle breaks down in the middle of the road, put on a reflective, high-visibility safety vest first. If there’s an accident, wearing a vest can decrease the chances that you’ll get hit by oncoming cars. Hi-vis safety vests are cheap, lightweight and easy to store beneath your driver-side car seat. This is a small investment that can save something a lot more valuable, your life.
Fatigue and drowsiness are one of the reasons for side impact car accidents. If you feel drowsy, try to pull over and take a quick nap to refresh yourself enough to continue driving. A blanket will keep you nice and warm while sleeping and if you have children along, they can also use that to keep themselves warm and comfortable while dozing off in the back seat.
Blankets also provide a nice cool shade for you outside if your car breaks down and the inside of your car is extremely warm. You can also make use of your blanket with accident victims that are in shock, they can be wrapped in a blanket to give them a sense of warmth and safety.
The human body is amazing however what goes in, must eventually come out. Sometimes the timing doesn’t always run to schedule so always carry a roll of toilet paper in the car.
It is also handy in cleaning minor drink spills or condiment drips like ketchup on the dashboard. You can also clean the dust collected in your car’s AC and can use that to wipe off the condensation from the inside of foggy windows.
If you have kids, don't just bring one roll of toilet paper in your car, bring two.
Having water with you can save you the headache of looking for one if your car ever breaks down in a remote area. You should also keep a minimum of 3 days of emergency drinking water in your car emergency kit.
Some say that leaving bottled water in your car is dangerous but there are ways to safely bring water and store them for emergencies:
It’s not hard to drain a car battery. Leaving the lights on (external or internal) when the car isn’t running is a common culprit. In the absence of any emergency Roadside Assistance, one solution is to have a working vehicle help get your battery going with a jump-start.
Whether you’re a car enthusiast or know nothing at all about cars, it’s bound to happen that one day you’ll have to perform some basic maintenance.
Your tool kit could include things like:
It’s not a bad idea to have a little emergency cash stored in your car. It should be extremely well hidden so as not to attract the attention of opportunistic thieves (a few coins left in the open is enough for some) and needn’t be more than $60 or $70.
This is enough to get a taxi somewhere if needed or pay for minor expenditures in an emergency. Out on the road, you can’t always access an ATM when you desperately need one.
Purchase a small fire extinguisher that will work on flammable fluids such as gasoline and oil as well as electrical fires. Use velcro and stick the fire extinguisher to the car’s console or inside of the front door for quick accessibility.
One of the first rules of survival – in any situation – is to have some method of making fire. Lighters don’t work too well if they get thoroughly soaked in the rain, so do your best to keep them dry. Waterproof matches are a better choice than normal matches because you can use them in any weather.
Believe it or not, a cell phone charger and cell phones are probably the most valuable devices if your car breaks down. Most people have never had to change a tire and can’t tell an alternator from a carburettor, so having the ability to call for help should be a top priority.
Your emergency kit should include contact details for police, ambulance, fire, your insurer and anyone else who can provide help during or after a breakdown.
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