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Preparing Your Car for an Emergency

Your car may be the difference between escaping from an emergency or being stuck. If you car breaks down, then it can become your emergency. Of course, it makes sense to keep a tool kit in your car if you know how to make minor repairs. But it’s much more likely that you will have to wait for help. So be prepared to survive, communicate, and signal.

Keep Your Car in Top Shape

One of the best ways to prepare for a disaster is to plan to escape from it. In order to do that, you need reliable transportation. Keep your car in top operating condition.

Prepare For Conditions in Your Area

Keep in mind that weather conditions may change dramatically if you are taking a driving trip. Know the conditions all along your route.

Put on snow tires when appropriate. Make sure your radiator is filled with antifreeze. If you will be driving in mountain snow conditions, have a set of chains for your car if it isn’t four-wheel drive.

Keep your gas tank filled, or nearly filled, especially if you have knowledge that a weather event is imminent. When a hurricane warning is issued, stations tend to run out of gas quickly. A blizzard can keep fuel trucks from re-supplying stations for some time.
The following are important points to remember when driving in flood conditions:

  • Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars causing loss of control and possible stalling.
  • A foot of water will float many vehicles.
  • Two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles including sport utility vehicles (SUV’s) and pick-ups.
  • Be aware of areas where floodwaters have receded. Roads may have weakened and could collapse under the weight of a car.

Keep a Preparedness Kit in Your Trunk

It is always a good idea to have tools in the trunk of your car. A roadside emergency kit will be essential in an emergency situation if your car breaks down. A jump-starter inflator can be an important tool in an emergency, helping you restart your car without having to wait for another car with jumper cables. But it’s also a good practice to keep other survival essentials in your trunk. A first-aid kit, a flashlight, a solar blanket, food and water are essentials needed to survive in the case of a blizzard or earthquake.

Remember to provide for the people in the car as well as the vehicle itself. One of the good things about your car is that it’s nearby most of the time – whether you’re at home, work, or running errands. If you live in an area where conditions can change suddenly (flood, earthquake, tornado), your car may be the closest source of emergency supplies.

Have a Way to Signal for Help

Conventional flares are a fire hazard and contain toxic chemicals. Consider switching to a high-intensity light stick or PowerFlare for signaling. They are waterproof and last much longer than a conventional flare, increasing your chances for rescue.

Listen for Weather Broadcasts

It’s important to keep abreast of weather developments, especially when traveling in your car. Tune into a news or weather station. Listen for emergency weather bulletins. Be aware of the emergency siren systems in your area and be alert for them.

Cell Phone

A cell phone can be a tremendous asset in an emergency situation. It enables you to call emergency personnel should you need assistance. While it’s always a good idea to have your cell phone charged, a car charger can be important in an emergency. Many crank-operated radios have cigarette-lighter or USB charging built-in. With one of those, you can charge your cell phone even if the car is dead. Use common sense when using a cell phone in a car, especially in an emergency. Don’t try to navigate in any conditions while trying to text or make a phone call, no matter how important the call.

Keeping your car in top shape and storing a preparedness kit in your trunk can make a big difference in the outcome of an emergency situation.