Hitting the highway this summer? Don’t forget your emergency kit

The snow is long-gone and it’s time to get those vacation brochures out and plan that summer trip. What about an outing to an amusement park or a camping trip? Maybe a tour of the national park system is on your agenda this season? But, there is one thing that needs to be on that list: An emergency roadside supply kit to get you out of that situation and back on the road to fun. You know, it doesn’t matter if you had your vehicle checked from “bumper to bumper” before hitting the highway — stuff happens, doesn’t it?  A flat tire, a fender bender, you run over something in the road that gets caught up in a belt, Car Care for the Clueless wants you to be prepared and safe this summer vacation season.  We’ve got your back.

There are a handful of items that every caravan should have in its trunk. Most of these objects can be located around the house or garage. A couple of the selections can be picked-up at a hardware or parts store, at a minimal cost. Trust me. The benefits out-weigh the price tag. And, best of all, these items will fit into a portable file box or old duffle bag you may have sitting around your basement.

1)      Battery jump box: Throw away those jumper cables! A battery jump box – which has 101 uses – can save your summer vacation. Accidently leave the lights on while trying to get the family out of the car for an event? Need a quick charge on your cell phone? Need an extra electrical outlet for a camping item? The battery jump box is your answer! The cost is around $35 to 45 and can be purchased at a big box retail or home improvement store.

2)      Tire puncture sealer: This easy to use tire inflator, sealer is a great get you out of a jam product. There is nothing more deflating during a summer trip to come out into the parking lot and see a tire flat on your vehicle. The quick fix to get you to the repair shop for a proper fix? Self-inflating, sealer all compact into a pressurized can. Remember: this is a point A to point B – from the incident to the repair shop — fix! Don’t rely upon it long term! As a courtesy, let the shop know you installed the additive when checking in with the advisor.

3)      First aid kit: You never know when walking in the wrong shoes will give you a blister. Catch yourself on a sharp object and cut your finger? How many times have we been looking through papers and got one of those notorious paper cuts? Why do a search and rescue in a strange town for a drug store when you can have all the essentials in your emergency tool kit? Band-Aids, antiseptic, sunburn spray – items you already have in the medicine cabinet – can be within reach within seconds in your kit.

4)      Small tool kit: You never know when you might need to make a minor repair on the family truckster this vacation. A burned out tail light bulb? A dangling front bumper air dam? Something you can repair in the driveway with little effort, but need to fix before traveling forward. Small screwdriver set, utility knife, tie-straps, small socket set – all things you find in your garage – can mean the difference of going forward fast or  wasting time waiting for a repair at an out of town shop.

5)      Duct tape: What a great product with a 1001 uses – at least! Whether it’s putting a temporary fix on an inflatable beach toy, anchoring an object to another or securing a bumper skin after a minor fender bender, this product is a must in every emergency tool kit. And, you don’t have to get the fancy colors or designs. This is strictly for utility use and recommend keeping your monies for souvenirs and purchasing the plain-Jane, gray tape. It’s just as effective.

6)      Sealed snacks and drinks: You never know what life’s going to throw at you and this includes a road-side breakdown or accident. Waiting for emergency personnel or a tow truck is no fun. And, sometimes, events like these can turn into hours, so if you or a loved one needs to have a snack every so often to keep health issues in check, I always recommend having sealed snacks – like peanut butter and crackers or sealed packet of fruit juice — to keep you on the road, even if your vehicle isn’t.

7)      Mosquitospray: No one likes dealing with the discomfort of a mosquito bite – especially while trying to enjoy a game of mini-golf, outdoor movie or a fishing expedition during summer vacation. The easy fix? Keep mosquito repellant ready. It doesn’t matter if it’s an organic or commercial product, whatever the medium, keep it handy for those after dusk, pre-dawn activities

8)      Second set of keys: And, I’m not talking about going out and purchasing another $300 to $500 key to start your vehicle. Everyone needs a backup key. Moving suitcases out of the trunk and the keys accidently get locked inside? Preoccupied with children only to find your keys in the ignition after the doors are locked? Keep money in your wallet and purchase a $10 door lock key – cheaper than a locksmith – to get you out of that jam. I recommend keeping it in an under the car “hide a key” container – easily accessible to you.

9)      List of emergency phone numbers: You’ll never know what to do when you’re in a jam and your cell phone is MIA. A printed, emergency phone number list will help get you out of that situation. Accidents, lost smart phones, strange cities can really get a person discombobulated. But, getting in touch with a trusted friend or relative for help is your key to getting you back on the road – fast!

10)  Clear painter’s tarp: Want to keep those wet, sandy beach toys from soaking into the car carpet? Have a window that is in the stuck-down position and it’s going to rain? Trying to keep that dirty, nasty blown-out tire away from the suitcases? No time like the present to get out your $1.99 clear painter’s tarp from your emergency roadside kit! This compact, disposal item is a must for that emergency tool kit in the trunk. With a 101 uses, clear painter’s tarp will make life a little easier this summer vacation.

11)  Pet provisions: Taking Fido and Fluffy on the road with you? Don’t forget a 1-day backup supply of food, water and pet waste pickup provisions. Also, that list of pet-friendly hotels and restaurants, too. You want to make sure that your furry friends are stress-free, making your trip worry-free.

12)  Backup ATM card: Lost your wallet? Need funds fast before the credit card company overnight’s your replacement? Nothing like a pre-paid ATM card to rescue your trip. You can choose any amount according to your budget. And, if you don’t need it for an emergency during your trip? Use it to pay for pizza and drinks when you get back home.

13)  LED flares: Remember those nasty, smoky flares you would see on the road when someone “broke-down?” Fast forward to the future: Reusable, LED emergency road flares are now available at a minimal cost – between $10 to $14 – at major home improvement stores or auto parts store.

It’s all about keeping you on the road this summer with Car Care for the Clueless.Com Making you a savvy car consumer!

About The Author

Pam Oakes is a shop owner, ASE-certified technician, automotive author, automotive speaker, and syndicated radio host of “Car Care for the Clueless” on CBS Radio, CoachMeRadio, and AOL Radio -- LIVE@5 p.m. every Friday. And, yes, she still “turns wrenches.”

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