vehicle emergency power kit – Daily Bulldog
FRANKLIN COUNTY – As we look forward to another New England winter, now is the time to assess your vehicle and make sure you are prepared for roadside emergencies. While the highways and back roads here in Franklin County offer scenic views and scenic landscapes, they are less than ideal places to be stranded, especially if one is unprepared.
The National Safety Council recommends an emergency supply kit, containing tools and supplies for the vehicle and passengers.
Don’t worry: you’re not going to pack an entire auto shop into your vehicle. The goal is to have tools and supplies to make quick roadside repairs and increase safety if you have to wait for a tow truck or emergency services. Things to consider include jumper cables, a basic household tool kit, extra flashlights and batteries, reflective triangles or cones, a tow rope, duct tape, and an automotive fire extinguisher. These items are available at a department store, hardware store, or automotive supply store.
Most vehicles are equipped with a spare tire, scissor jack or tripod and a wheel wrench or tire lever. Make sure they are the correct size for your vehicle and in good condition, and that your spare tire is properly inflated. (Your local mechanic may be able to help if needed.)
Even if you don’t know or can’t change a tire or replace a battery, having the tools available makes it easier for others to help you.
Being stranded by extreme weather conditions, whether hot or cold, can pose a serious health hazard to you and your passengers. In bad weather or in areas with no cell signal, it may take some time for help to arrive; being prepared can save your life.
Dehydration is a threat at any time, so keep drinking water in your vehicle year-round. In winter, plastic containers are generally better than metal or glass because plastic can expand and contract with freezing water with less risk of the container breaking. Smaller bottles can fit in cup holders that are often near heater vents, allowing water to thaw faster.
High-energy, non-perishable foods such as dried fruits, nuts, and hard candies are good options in case you’re stuck for hours. Consider any food allergies when packing food. It’s also a good idea to store food in an airtight metal box to keep pests away.
Other things to consider include a reflective vest, a raincoat or poncho, a cell phone car charger, some blankets, and a first aid kit. The National Safety Council suggests that a basic first aid kit should contain gauze, bandages, duct tape, scissors, latex-free gloves, tweezers and instant cold packs. You can also include aspirin, hydrocortisone, and antibiotic ointment. Check the dates of all medications and ointments to make sure they are still good.
Most of these items can be stored in a duffel bag or backpack in the trunk of the car or in the backseat.
Cold weather requires a few additional considerations. A snow brush and window scraper, shovel, cold weather washer fluid, warm clothes, good gloves or mittens, hat and coat, and sand or kitty litter for traction are always a good idea. Also, keeping your gas tank at least half full will give you a safety buffer and allow you to roll the vehicle to warm up.
Your emergency supply kit should contain the basics, but it can be customized to suit your needs. For example, if you regularly travel with young children, you might consider extra blankets, diapers, appropriate snacks, and a change of clothes for each child. I travel with my dog regularly, so a water bowl, extra water, high energy treats, leash and blanket for her are important things in my emergency kit.
The National Safety Council recommends that your emergency power kit be checked and replenished every six months. Personally, I like to do this around the same time I get my winter tires changed in October and April; it’s an easy way for me to remember to check everything in my vehicle and make sure I’m prepared for the months ahead.
If you get stuck, stay with your vehicle; it provides safety and shelter, and makes it easier for rescuers to find you.
Take steps to be seen. While running your hazard lights will improve visibility, it can potentially drain your battery. Safety LED flashlights are readily available and have long battery life; consider finding a model that has a flash mode and magnets to hold it to the outside of your vehicle. Place the lights in a prominent location on the side or roof of your vehicle facing the roadway and try to ensure the light can be seen from both directions.
If you’re stuck in a winter storm, the National Weather Service recommends running the engine for about ten minutes every hour for heat. While the engine is running, open the window a little to allow fresh air to circulate and prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Also, make sure the exhaust pipe is free of snow and other blockages. A reflective triangle or cone on the outside of your vehicle may not help if conditions are windy, but attaching a shiny piece of fabric to your door or antenna can help.
You don’t pack a full auto shop or the contents of an ambulance in the trunk of your car. The goal is to help keep you safe while you wait for help. Consider your needs, including the space you have in your vehicle.
No one expects to get stuck, but taking the time to prepare can make all the difference if it does happen.
For more information on emergency preparedness, Check out this program from Mt. Blue TV. Host Tom Saviello speaks with Franklin County Emergency Management Director Timothy Hardy, Wilton, Maine Fire Department Assistant Fire Chief Thomas Doak, and Joshua Bell of Northern Lights Stove and Recreation , to discuss what you need to have ready in an emergency, the basics of fire safety and the specifics of maintaining your propane, pellet or wood burning stove and fireplace.