While cars are far more reliable than in days gone by, they still occasionally break down. Your best defense is a well-maintained car, but there are some roadside tips that help, too.
An emergency kit can be bought or assembled. It should include the following:
- One set of copper-topped jumper cables.
- A large spotlight or flashlight.
- At least two 15 minute safety flares. Four or six are better.
- A distress flag or brightly colored piece of cloth to tie to the car.
- Emergency warning triangles, which are visible from 12 feet away.
- A small fire extinguisher.
- A small first-aid kit. This should include adhesive bandages of various sizes, first aid cream, gauze pads, first-aid tape, and an iodine solution.
- A heavy blanket in a sealed plastic cover, if you live in a cold climate.
Store the kit in a sturdy, locked box. Keep a record of the lock's combination or its key taped to the inside of the glove compartment or similar place.
Keep a list of emergency phone numbers in the glove compartment: a neighbor, family member, doctor, mechanic, and automobile club.
Buy a car charger so that your cell phone is always charged.
Before you Leave
Make sure your car is serviced--oil and filters changed, hoses checked. Check the oil and the tire pressure just before you leave home.
Have a spare tire and tools for changing it. Check that the emergency roadside kit is in the car.
If you breakdown, pull as far off the road as you can. Stay with the car. Set up flares and emergency warning triangles. Tie the emergency flag to the outside of the car.
If a tire is flat and you are not sure how to change it, call for roadside assistance. If you don't have an assistance service, wait for help. Don't leave the car unless you know exactly where you are going.
Use a cell phone to call the automobile club or 911. If you are near home, call your mechanic. Do not attempt to cross the highway or walk a long distance in search of a phone. If you see an emergency phone within walking distance, use it.
Encourage passengers to move to the side of the road, as far back from the highway as possible but within sight. Do not let children run around or wander. Keep everyone together, quiet, and calm.
With luck, you will never find yourself stranded on the side of the road -- but if you do, you are prepared.