Summer finally returned, and with it comes bar-be-ques, fireworks, the beach, camping and road trips. Going camping requires gathering the shorts, bathing suits, sleeping bags, cooking utensils, the tent or RV, and a whole host of other supplies and necessities to make your summer experience as pleasant as possible. When you go camping, as most campers know from experience, many preparations begin long before the first cooler is placed in the car. Camping, once there, whether it is in a tube tent or a 60-foot land ship with slide outs is a wonderful experience. Getting from home to your destination, or back, however can be stressful.
This summer as you check your list(s) before you start the car or RV, consider the contents of the car or RV. Ok, you packed the grill, the favorite book, GPS, and extra water. You took the final head count and made sure all the kids, pets and dog bowls are…somewhere in the vehicle. You even managed to remember a great CD for the long tenuous ride ahead. Your summer excursion is about to begin. That is what you think. Your automobile, is as tired of this past winter’s long duration as the kids are about school. The ice, snow, road salt and chemicals have taken their toll on the exterior of the vehicle. No problem, a good washing will get rid of the dirt and pollen. Good to go, right? Nope. Your body needs water and food for fuel. Your car needs an oil change; check the air in the tires, check the belts, windshield washer, and a good going over under the hood. I am not an auto mechanic, therefor I am not an expert in everything my mechanic does. I may look under the hood and say, “Yup! Engines still there!” but beyond that, I am fortunate that I know the battery from the exhaust pipe. Sure, I maintain the fluids, but that is not enough. Do not make the mistake of putting antifreeze in your windshield washer dispenser, or let little Johnny fill up the gas tank with the garden hose! I am a firm believer in maintenance, but as with anything man-made, your transportation will eventually breakdown.
Normally, vehicle breakdowns seem to occur at the most inopportune times, for example, during a thunderstorm, or a 13-mile backup to a favorite location, or while it is dark. How many times have you driven past people with all their stuff on the ground on the side of the road? Were you one of them? Preparing your vehicle for the summer trip will give you peace of mind, provide your passengers with an added level of security, and it probably will not be the trip memorialized as the trip that never left town. Even if you take all of these recommended precautions, there is still the possibility that your car, truck or RV will breakdown. Some people have roadside service, a great thing to have, except during that 90 degree summer day when the car broke down while the windows were up, because the air conditioner was on, and now without power you cannot roll them down. Now the waiting for roadside service begins. It could be hours before help arrives, and you may need a flashlight to signal for help, or water or even some basic hand tools.
The solution is to have an auto emergency kit in the car. Auto kit contents vary widely, so be cautious to purchase an auto emergency kit that will contain the items you think are the best for your situation. Ready.gov Emergency Car Kit (FEMA Federal Emergency Management Agency) recommends keeping an auto emergency kit in your car. Direct from their site, here is their list of the recommended contents of an auto emergency kit.
- Jumper cables: might want to include flares or reflective triangle
- Flashlights: with extra batteries
- First Aid Kit: remember any necessary medications, baby formula and diapers if you have a small child
- Food: non-perishable food such as canned food, and protein rich foods like nuts and energy bars
- Manual can opener
- Water: at least 1 gallon of water per person a day for at least 3 days
- Basic toolkit: pliers, wrench, screwdriver
- Pet supplies: food and water
- Radio: battery or hand cranked
- Cat litter or sand: for better tire traction
- Ice scraper
- Clothes: warm clothes, gloves, hat, sturdy boots, jacket and an extra change of clothes for the cold
- Blankets or sleeping bags
- Charged Cell Phone: and car charger
Just Us Enterprises, the Emergency Disaster Preparedness company, provides three different styles of Auto Emergency Kits, a Basic Auto Kit, and Ultimate Auto Kit, and a Family (4-person) Auto Kit. Have a safe journey, wherever you go, and be prepared for life’s unexpected potholes.