At AAMCO Colorado we enjoy our cars and work hard to keep them running safely and reliably. Our full spectrum of complete car repair and maintenance services will keep your car in top shape so you don’t have to lose any sleep over a broken timing belt in the middle of the desert, or a blown transmission on the way to that remote campground.
When it comes to being prepared for emergencies related to driving, other factors come into play that don’t necessarily have to do with your car’s mechanical condition. You can keep you and your passengers covered for most anything, but this all depends on the extent to which you want to go in your preparedness. Zombie apocalypse, or flat tire? All out end of the world, or snacks while you wait for a tow truck?
This can be influenced by the environment where you live and the conditions in which you regularly travel. For instance, someone in California will have some different items in their car than someone in North Dakota – but there are some basics that ring true to everyone no matter where they live or drive. Here are some of those items, as well as some things to think about as you form your preparedness strategy.
Think about the climate where you live. What is the predominant kind of weather you drive in? Sunny and hot? Rainy and wet? Is the main season in your area winter? Even if it is not winter, how severe is summer? Where and when you drive is important to understand before assembling the items you want in your car for emergencies.
You especially want to take into account those times when weather turns severe. Even if it is predicted, you can’t always adjust your driving schedule to avoid it, and the predictions are not always accurate. Oftentimes, severe weather necessitates driving to go help others or report to duties or jobs associated with emergency weather situations. If you have any friends who are in rescue work professions, or volunteer, ask them to help you with the items you should keep in your car.
It might not always be the weather that causes an emergency situation. Again, if you live in California, an earthquake can quickly change your morning commute, as well as the availability of any emergency services. That’s when you’re happy you thought ahead.
Let’s be honest and just say that some states spend more money on, or do a better job at, maintaining their highways. And we all know which cities or counties know what “paved roads” mean. General conditions in which you regularly drive, combined with climate considerations, might determine whether you pack all of the equipment to fully repair and inflate a flat – including an air compressor – or just enough to allow you to limp to a service station. If you drive dusty country roads most of the day, pothole-riddled side streets, or rocky mountain trails, you might want to consider your mix of flat tire solutions and overnight readiness. And no matter what conditions you drive through every day, you should bring your car to a local AAMCO Colorado and have it checked per the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule.
Space in Your Car
The amount of room you have in your car for items you hopefully will not have to use is a factor in your strategy. Considering the space you have available for keeping these items securely stored and readily accessible is important. The trunk is the obvious choice if you have a lot of gear, and there are special nets or straps you can install to hold it all. But accessibility can be a factor in the successful deployment of your emergency equipment. If for some reason you can’t get out of your car, or the trunk is crushed or obstructed in some way, what are your alternatives? Of course, if you’re upside down or trapped in your car, your problems are probably beyond flat tires and jumper cables.
- Emergency kit.
Safety is your top priority, so put together a good, self-contained, compact kit to use in case of emergencies. The emergency could be something like a cut or scrape while hiking, or being stuck at the side of the road waiting several hours for a tow truck – or having your car crashed in a ditch in a snowstorm in the middle of nowhere. Always check the kit regularly and keep it stocked. At a minimum, your emergency kit should contain:
- First aid supplies.
A good first aid kit should contain everything you need, but some basics include Band-Aids, bandages and adhesive tape, gauze pads, aspirin, antiseptic wipes and ointment. Also consider any items particular to yourself or your family, such as meds or equipment for certain conditions (asthma, diabetes, etc.). These more specific items would obviously best be packed per trip, and not stored for long periods of time in the changing environs and temperatures of a car.
- Flashlight & batteries, glow sticks, matches, heat packs.
- Flares & warning flags or triangles.
- Bottled water or water purification tablets. Chlorine-based tablets will kill waterborne organisms if you have to get water from a stream or lake.
- Non-perishable food like energy bars, trail mix, dried fruit, jerky.
- Knife, multi-tool, permanent marker, and shovel.
- Blanket, hat (both winter and summer), windbreaker, gloves, coat. Some people carry a full change of clothes.
- Sunscreen, sunglasses.
- Windshield sun visor. Did you know you can use a sun visor to make a sign – if you have a marker (see #7). If the visor is one of the reflective kind, it can be used to reflect light and signal to others.
- Fire extinguisher.
- Flat tire solution.
This can be as simple as a can of Fix-a-Flat, which can seal and inflate a punctured tire. For a more comprehensive solution, we recommend a system that includes an air compressor and tire pressure gauge.
- Jumper cables
Even if you have roadside assistance service like AAA, jumper cables come in handy. Imagine if you’re camping in the woods and there is no cell phone reception to call for that roadside jump. You’ll have to rely on fellow campers, and they might not have jumper cables. You might not have cell phone service, but you might also not want to wait a long time for roadside assistance to arrive, or possibly pay a fee. Jumper cables and the kindness others will go a long way to make your day and get you on your way.
A good rule is to just ask yourself, “Would I be able to survive a cold night or a hot day in my car?” Some other questions would be:
“Does my driving present the potential for a situation in which I could be stranded for a day or more?”
“Does the weather where I live present the possibility of being stranded or injured while driving?”
“The last time I was stranded, I really wish I’d had…”
“Why am I not prepared at all and what is stopping me?”
To have nothing and be totally subject to the availability of roadside assistance is probably not a good idea. But if your driving habits mostly take you from home to the store, around town, and back home again, then you probably don’t need a tent and MRE’s. But a few of the basics selected from the items above are a good idea. How far you want to go as a prepper is up to you.
Come to your local AAMCO Colorado store for a complete ProtectCheck Diagnostic. We’ll help you keep your car running reliably so you won’t have to worry about whether you’ll weather the storm, or survive the next meteor impact.
If you have questions about your car’s road readiness, or about car repair and maintenance topics, AAMCO Colorado can help. You can also go online and use the AAMCO Colorado Ask a Mechanic feature to submit your auto repair questions. They will be answered by a real AAMCO Colorado mechanic as soon as possible.