Tahoe chief’s corner: Do you have an emergency kit in your vehicle?
With the colder temperatures we’ve been experiencing and more snow potentially in the forecast, it’s a good idea to consider putting together an emergency supplies kit for your car to have handy in any kind of situation.
For commuting or traveling any great distance by car, packing an emergency kit may make the difference between getting back on the road soon, or being stuck where you are for some time.
Such protection is something that every vehicle should have (along with a well-equipped first-aid kit). Yet most people carry only a few of the basic items they need to help them get back on the road quickly and safely if the run into a problem.
Above all, always carry the necessary equipment for changing a tire — a working jack, an inflated spare tire, a lug nut wrench or tire iron, and pipe for leverage. These items should always be stored in their designated place in your car’s trunk or hatchback.
Recommended Items to include: vehicle cell phone charger, roadside flares, first-aid kit, work gloves or latex gloves, two quarts of oil, jumper cables, antifreeze, brake fluid, extra fuses, blanket, flashlight, extra batteries, Phillips and flat head screwdrivers, adjustable wrench, pliers, tire inflater, tire pressure gauge, rags and funnel, duct tape, paper towels, washer fluid, ice scraper, an AAA or roadside emergency card, triangle reflectors, flares, pocketknife, bottled water, and granola/energy bars,
You can use a cardboard box or large plastic container for storage, so you can quickly find what you need. If space in your car is at a premium, you can use a basic version of the emergency kit, with a small first-aid kit; two roadside flares; a quart of oil; extra fuses; a flashlight; a multipurpose tool, wire cutters, a saw, a bottle opener, screwdrivers, tire inflater, rags, pocket knife, and a help sign. Also keep a collapsible shovel in your car.
In addition to preparing your emergency kit and knowing how to use every item in it, consider the following guidelines to protect yourself and your family when you are on the road:
• Try to move your car completely off the road before taking any emergency measures.
• Do not stand near the edge of the highway while you are checking your vehicle.
• At night, turn on your flashers to signal that you need help.
• In daylight, raise the hood and tie a white cloth on the antenna or door handle of your car.
• Set out flares if you have them.
• If you have to repair your car at night, wear a fluorescent safety vest.
• While waiting for help to arrive, stay inside your car with the windows up and the doors locked.
• Do not accept a ride to any destination from a passing motorist.
Also, keep your gas tank full and if you find yourself stranded, be safe and stay in your car, put on your flashers, call for help and wait until it arrives. For more information on vehicle safety please visit http://www.dmv.org.
Ryan Sommers is chief of the North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.