As I mentioned last time, this week we’re looking at car kits, but I diverge a little from the Family Survival Planning guide here.
They start out well enough, giving their reasoning for having kits in your car, being basically “it just makes sense, just in case.” Anything from a “regular” disaster occurring while you’re traveling, to a car accident, to just about anything in between–odds are, you’re not *horribly* far away from your vehicle. If you’re away from home when something occurs, you’re that much more vulnerable, with less of a safety net-having a kit in the car is a good backup. And, if you’ve got one in your car, it’s hard to misplace.
I can’t exactly figure out just what they’re thinking, though, for some of this. They mention having a backpack or the like to hold your car kit, so that if the need arises you can take the kit, and leave the car behind you… Then they just sort of leave it there. I pretty much figure that almost any situation that has me using my vehicle kit is probably going to require me to leave the car at some point. This affects what I put in the kit.
Some of their tips:
- Make sure to pack extra clothes for warmth, weather-dependent for your area. You may have to change these out, depending on the season. Here, I am in complete agreement.
- Maintain at least a half tank of gas at all times. And here, I break from their thinking. Oh, I like where they’re headed, but trying to maintain over a half tank of gas at all times would have me constantly at the gas station. Personally, I try not to ever let the car get below a quarter tank of gas. This is entirely up to personal preference, though.
- Pack a kit for the typical number of people who are in your car. Here, I diverge just a little–that number is wildly variable for me, ranging from “just me” up to as many as seven people. Ultimately, I’d shoot for a happy medium–call it two, or (for the mathematically inclined) “half the car’s capacity, minus one.”
They also recommend having separate kits: a first aid kit, an auto emergency kit, and a severe weather emergency kit. Personally, I combine them all, and add in a “get-home bag” (GHB), basically a smaller version of my BoB that lives in the car. (Again, up to you.) They suggest having travel blankets–I like keeping at least two blankets, plus a towel or two. Nothing huge, but it’s extremely useful when I take a dog to the vet (to limit fur and mud, and for if they get carsick). And age-appropriate toys for kids, as necessary, are a good addition. (Anecdotally, one of my vehicles, with my wife and kids, was hit by another car several years back; the toys and such kept the kids occupied while the police arrived and did the report, and while waiting for the tow truck, etc.)
The list also has a “car checklist,” which I think goes more towards maintaining a vehicle than being prepped, but I suppose additional reminders can’t hurt. You need a working (mechanically sound) vehicle. They again stress the half-tank of gas. They suggest using the trunk as a bit, metal supply cabinet, and replacing the vehicle’s battery every 2-3 years, whether it needs it or not. The battery makes sense, if you envision sticking with the car for an extended period–wouldn’t do to have it die on you; you’ll need it for radio and possibly the heater. I’m a bit iffy on using the trunk as a ‘supply cabinet,’ though. I keep the contents of mine fairly tight, and it’s still a mess; if I were to use it as more general-purpose storage, it would be untenable.
The next part of the list is for vehicle maintenance. Either have a mechanic check on (and maintain) all of this, or (my preference) learn to do it yourself:
- Wipers and windshield fluid
- Ignition system
- Lights and hazards
- Exhaust system
- Adequate tire tread
They don’t mention oil, brake fluid (directly), power steering fluid, lube jobs, or any of the other myriad things. The short version, though, is to keep up with the stuff under the hood, as well.
Finally, we get to their version of the Auto Emergency Kit, and the Emergency Kit for the Trunk. (They don’t list a backpack; I use a MOLLE-style “sling” bag, with some extras strapped to the outside–but I’ll save the details on that for next time.)
- Auto Emergency Kit
- Bottled water
- Sturdy walking shoes and socks
- Poncho (here, or here)
- First Aid kit and manual (I use this one, your mileage may vary)
- ‘Sundry’ kit, with paper and pencil, a map, moist towelettes, plastic bags, and facial tissue
- Flashlights and batteries
- Energy foods or bars and/or trail mix
- Ready-to-eat foods, with utensils to eat them if necessary
- Radio and batteries
- Space- or fleece blankets or sleeping bags
- Cell phone charger
- Small folding umbrella
- Emergency Trunk Tools
- Class-ABC fire extinguisher (like this one)
- Shovel and tools (this set isn’t bad; shop around)
- Waterproof matches and candles
- Short rubber hose for siphoning (this kind will prevent a mouthful of fuel)
- Bag of sand
- Reflectors and flares
- Jumper cables (get an “emergency kit” and cover much of the above, with an extra first-aid kit)
As I mentioned, I don’t necessarily agree 100% with everything here; the next post will look a bit at my actual car kit(s). Stick around!