Driving to Safety, What to Have in the CarAugust 20, 2008
You’ve packed your personal disaster kit with everything you need to flee. It’s in the car with you, but is there more you should have in the car? Yes.
- A tank full of gas. In general, it is a good idea to keep your tank half full at all times. If you have enough lead time, fill your tank completely before you leave.
- Blanket, and pillow. You may have to shelter in your car, and having a pillow can make sleep easier. An emergency blanket is a good idea if you live in an area with very cold weather. You need to be able to conserve your body heat and not depend on the car’s heater to keep you warm.
- Water and food. You may get stuck in traffic if everyone is leaving at the same time. Energy bars, or other ready to eat food is a good choice.
- Car kit with jumper cables, emergency triangle, and basic tools.
- Inflated spare tire, jack, and instructions on how to change the tire.
- Car charger for your cell phone.
- Cash or traveler’s checks.
- Flashlight with batteries, or glowsticks. Glowsticks are chemical lights that usually last for 12 hours.
- Maps showing the evacuation route and shelter location.
- Audio books or music CD’s. You don’t know how long you will be in the car and this gives you a way to pass the time.
This is just a basic list and there may be other things you need depending on your situation. There are many items that should already be in your personal bag, that I didn’t list here. Yes it is important to have a separate store of food and water in the car, and in your bag. If you are stuck in traffic for a day, and then at a shelter, you need your three day supply of water for the shelter.
When you prepare your car, don’t think it’s a do it and forget about it situation. Just like you need to keep your personal disaster kit up to date, you need to do the same for your car. Especially the water and food, rotate them on a regular basis. Check your spare tire twice a year to make sure it is in good shape. Go ahead and practice using your jack, taking off the tire and putting on the spare. In your driveway is a much better place to learn than on the side of the road with cars whizzing by.
Keeping your car ready includes basic maintenance as well. Keep your oil changed, your fluids topped off, and the inside clear of clutter and trash. If you have to leave in a hurry, you don’t want to waste precious time cleaning out crap so you can put your valuables in the car. Maintain your car and it will serve you well when you need it most.