Tahoe Chief’s Corner: Do you have an Emergency Supplies Kit for your car?

Mike Brown
Chief’s Corner
Mike Brown

A couple of weeks ago we talked about winter driving and some safety precautions to take before you get on the road and as well as while on the road.

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.

You can use a cardboard box or large plastic container for storage, so that it doesn’t roll around in the trunk and you can quickly find what you need in an emergency.

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 commonly containing pliers, wire cutters, a saw, a bottle opener, screwdrivers, files and an awl; a tire inflator, some rags, a pocket knife, and a help sign.

Several companies and organizations offer pre-assembled emergency roadside kits that contain essential items in a small, convenient carrier. You may also want to add a few of the items listed above to suit your needs.

During the winter, you should also keep a collapsible shovel in your car in case you have to dig your way out of ice or snow.

Before you actually find yourself in an emergency situation, take time to become familiar with the items you’ve collected and how to use them correctly, because simply having in them in your possession is not enough.

After all, it is easy to become flustered when the unexpected happens, and many of us (both male and female) are not too mechanically inclined.

Remember that the most important item at your disposal is your own good judgment. For example, stopping to change a tire in the high-speed lane on the interstate is an invitation to disaster.

Try to move your car completely off the road before taking any emergency measures, and don’t 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, and iff you have to repair your car at night, wear a fluorescent safety vest.

Lastly, while waiting for help to arrive, stay inside your car with the windows up and the doors locked — and do not accept a ride to any destination from a passing motorist.

It’s also a good idea to 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

“Chief’s Corner” is a regular feature in the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza from North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District Chief Mike Brown, offering information, tips and education material on fire safety, emergency preparedness and other pertinent topics.

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