5 Simple Steps to Prepare for a Roadside Emergency

Nobody wants to face a roadside emergency. They’re sometimes dangerous, often expensive and time-consuming, and almost always extremely inconvenient.

Many of the worst aspects of roadside emergencies can be mitigated by taking a few steps in advance to prepare yourself. Being ready for an emergency means that you’ll be able to handle it much more efficiently, often with less distress, less time and less money, and you’ll be back on the road much faster than you would’ve been otherwise.

Here are five key strategies that you should consider to prepare yourself for a potential roadside emergency in your future. Each of these steps will help to minimize the danger, time, money and frustration that can come along with a roadside emergency.

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Keep an emergency kit in your car. An emergency kit is a set of supplies stored in your car, often in a box in your trunk, which will help take care of you in a roadside emergency. The California Highway Patrol provides a great sample list for stocking an emergency kit on its website.

Consider including a first kid kit with bandages, hand sanitizer, antibiotic ointment, bug spray, aspirin, cotton balls, gauze pads and tweezers. Pack a small fire extinguisher, road flares, jumper cables, rain ponchos, a tarp, a flashlight with extra batteries, rags, duct tape, drinking water, nonperishable snacks and a small basic tool kit.

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Have a spare cell phone and charger in your glove compartment. Any cell phone can be used to call 911, even if it doesn’t have service. Thus, when you upgrade to a new cell phone, take the old one and put it in your glove compartment, along with its charger. Turn it off, so it doesn’t eat into its charge, and occasionally pull it out, turn it on and fully charge it.

There are times during which being able to turn on that phone and call 911 can be a true lifesaver, so storing it conveniently nearby is something you should consider.

Have key contact information and insurance information on your phone. You should have your insurance company’s telephone number stored on your phone for easy dialing, as well as your insurance policy number. One good strategy is to simply take a picture of the document with your phone, then add that document to a note on your phone that you can quickly access. This will help if your insurance documents are inaccessible for some reason in the event of an accident or other issue.

Having a clearly written sheet in your glove compartment that lists emergency contacts, your insurance contact and your policy number can also be an efficient timesaver. It’s a good idea to have both a clear document and information on your phone.

Do a few run-throughs of basic roadside emergency tasks. Learn how to change a flat tire yourself, from removing the spare from your car, jacking up the car, removing the flat tire, putting the new tire on the car, and returning all used equipment to the car. Know how to jump your car battery if it’s dead. Know how to set off a road flare, so other drivers can clearly see you and not run in to you in the darkness of night.

Don’t simply rely on a general understanding of such tasks. Give those procedures a practice run or two, so you know, from experience, how to do them smoothly, and you have the confidence to actually try. Not only will that save you money in many roadside emergencies, it can save you time, too.

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In winter months, keep extra items in your car. Winter driving adds extra risks and hazards that can result in particularly dangerous roadside emergencies. In addition to the items listed previously that you should have in your car at all times, consider packing away blankets, a change of thick winter clothes, extra food items, ice-melting salt or solution and sand.

You should also know how to use salt and sand to help yourself get out of difficult situations. Salt can help melt away ice while sand can be used around your tire to give it some traction if you’re stuck in snow or ice, plus the weight of the sand in your car can help with traction.

Following these steps will give you a giant leg up the next time a roadside emergency pops up in your life.

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