Survival Strategies: you auto be prepared

Posted: 15/07/2009 in safety, survival
Tags: , , , , ,

While vacationing last week I had the pleasure of traveling north on the interstate, and as per usual views, passed a few people broken down on the side of the road. Most of the vehicles had the orange tags placed on the vehicles by the state police. Only one person had his hood up and was working on his problem. Of course, a state PD cruiser was snoozing behind him with the flashing lights going.

It brought to mind the vast percentage of the population who are not prepared to handle emergencies and break downs on the highway while traveling on vacation. Breaking down while enjoying your time off from work is pretty inconvenient, isn’t it? Imagine the same thing happening while you are evacuating your region with a hurricane or other calamity breathing down the back of your pants! That would be a tad more than inconvenient. But we still do not prepare for the possibility of such an event.

I got to thinking about what one may need should we break down, and as usual my mind wandered to the catalogs and the endless array of so called roadside emergency kits. They’ve got a lot of gadgets inside those bright yellow bags, but some of them go nowhere near enough to cover eventualities. So I came up with my own list of supplies to have on hand in the trunk or behind the back seat.

Here’s the list:

  • Road maps and a compass. In the event that you should get turned around, a good roadmap will help you get back on track quickly. Sometimes it may be difficult, such as under a heavily overcast sky, to tell which way you are heading, and the compass will help you keep your sense of direction.
  • Booster cables. These are used to boost a dead battery, provided you can find somebody else to give you a boost. Remember that when you buy your cables, get them with the smallest number size available. Wire gauges are sized so that the smaller numbers have a larger sized cable, and vice-versa. Many cables I have seen have a 12 gauge wire, stay away from them. Get at least a 10 gauge, and if possible an 8 gauge set of cables. And also, make sure that the cables have a stranded core, not a solid one. The stranded core are more flexible and less susceptible to breakage.
  • Extra fuses. Get an assortment of fuses that contain at least two of every size and style of fuse used in your vehicle. The temptation is to simply buy one of the packaged assortments, but I would suggest you simply buy one package of every size fuse you need. Also pick up a couple of fusible links that are rated for your vehicles system. Package them up in a plastic box, like the type you can buy for fishing tackle. Throw in a fuse tester and a wire tool with a stripper, cutter and pliers ends. To complete your electrical readiness kit, wire nuts and a roll of black electrical tape will be needed.
  • Lug wrench. These come with your car, so there is no excuse to not have one in your vehicle. For better torque and ease of removing lug nuts. I purchased an eighteen inch, ½ inch breaker bar and a deep socket the size of my lug nuts. It doesn’t take up much space, and fits right into the tire well.
  • Small tool kit. A self contained tool kit, commercially available, with an assortment of wrenches and sockets should be in your trunk as well. One way to conserve on space, if that is an issue, would be to just get wrenches and sockets that fit the fasteners on your car. These could be fit into an old surplus tool roll or a small tackle box. The smaller canvas zippered bags you can get today fold down flat and don’t take up any extra space.
  • Repair guide. A Chilton’s or a Haines manual is essential for making repairs to your car. Read it over carefully to familiarize yourself with emergency repairs.
  • Duct tape and rubberized tape. These tapes are a wonder when you have broken down sometimes. With these tapes you can make a quick, but temporary repair to your heating and cooling systems, and have other uses as well.
  • Gloves and a plastic sheet. Get some heavy weight gloves for making radiator repairs and to protect your hands from injury. You can use the plastic sheet to keep you from getting too dirty of wet from the ground. I use a clear shower curtain. Its heavier weight makes it durable, and comes folded in a small shape to fit into any crevice in your car.
  • Extra radiator hoses and fan belts. If you are going on a long trip, it wouldn’t hurt to put extra hoses and belts in case of failure a long way from any town. It’ll beat a long walk should the break be too severe to simply be taped up. Fan belts can also be temporarily replaced with other items as well, such as rope and flexible wire. Panty hose is said to be usable, but I question the efficacy of such a repair.
  • First aid kit. Again, make sure you have a complete first aid kit. A box of bandages does not mean you have a first aid kit.
  • Water. Keep a gallon or two in the back of your car. If you break down it will keep you from getting dehydrated, and you may need it for the radiator as well.
  • Vehicle fluids. If you are going out of town, it wouldn’t hurt to carry an extra bottle of oil, transmission fluid, and brake fluid. Extra windshield cleaner solvent would be handy as well.
  • Tires. Try to get a replacement for the donut tire most cars come with today. A full sized replacement will allow you to continue on your way with four fully functioning tires. The donut tires restrict your speed, and if you have a fully loaded vehicle and trailer on your trip, your vehicle will become more dangerous to drive.

These are just a few tips and hints. Survey your own situation and requirements, and establish your own preparedness list for your trip. Also, remember to make sure your car is maintained in tip-top shape. You never know when you might have to bug out, and if you do, what are the chances of getting your car in for a check up?

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