You should know that the one time you get a flat tire, run out of gas or break down completely will be when you are on a secluded road somewhere in Southern California. It could be late at night or in the middle of a storm, and it will probably be the day you forget your cellphone at home or didn’t remember to charge. It does not matter if you have a brand new vehicle fresh off the lot, or if you are driving your 10-year-old car that has always proven to be reliable, there are five items that you need to have in your vehicle at all times.
Many people think about creating a roadside kit, but never get around to doing it. This is one of those things you cannot appreciate until you need it and either have one, or you don’t. Roadside kits are easy to put together. Everything can be stored in a plastic container with a lid, and kept in your trunk or cargo area. It does not take up that much space and it is well worth having. There are some prepackaged kits available, but they are rarely as thorough as one will be if you create it yourself. Items that should be inside include:
- Jumper Cables – Know how to use these!
- Flashlights – Ideally, you will have the type that you shake and charge. If you have battery operated ones, keep batteries in the kit; not in the flashlight itself.
- Tools – Include the basics, like a lug wrench, screwdriver, etc. Also make sure you have a jack with your spare tire.
- Fix-a-Flat – This could get you to the closest repair shop.
- Other – Tow rope, butane lighter, scrap paper (to help start a fire), crank radio, flares and heavy duty scissors or seatbelt cutters.
First Aid Kit
If your roadside kit container is large enough, you may be able to fit your first aid kit right inside. There are a lot of places in Orange County where you can pick up a first aid kit, or you can create this yourself as well.
- Bandages – You want several sizes of adhesive bandages, plus sterile gauze and medical tape. A small box of bandages that will barely cover a paper cut probably won’t do much good in an emergency situation
- Wound Cleaning – Make sure you include peroxide, antiseptic, hand cleaner, sanitizer, alcohol wipes, saline solution, burn spray, antibiotic ointment and insect bite swabs should be included.
- Medication – If you take medication, it is a good idea to have a full day’s worth in the kit. Benadryl will be helpful if there is a snake bite or allergic reaction and ibuprofen will help with pain while aspirin will be essential if someone’s having a heart attack. It is not a bad idea to keep a few vitamins to give your immune system a boost. A little vitamin C can go a long way in improving your mood too.
- Tools – You will need bandage scissors, thermometer and tweezers.
- Other – CPR card, exam gloves, cold packs and anything else you would want in an emergency situation.
Snacks and Water
It is imperative that you have snacks and water in your vehicle at all times, and you will want to check the expiration date on these items occasionally and rotate, if needed. Stay away from bags of chips, candy and other garbage that will do nothing but peak your sugar levels and make you crash.
High protein energy bars are ideal, as are bags of peanuts and even a healthy brand of granola bars. Keep several bottles of water in the vehicle, and if you travel with your four-legged friend sometimes, make sure you have a bowl to pour water in for them. You want to pack a small bag of dog food and a few treats for them too.
This may be sunny California, but that does not mean it does not get cold, especially at night. A blanket will go a long way in helping to keep your body temperature up, if your car won’t start. If you typically travel with kids, pack at least two blankets. You may want to keep an old blanket in your roadside kit too, in case you need something to lie on to change a tire. Most importantly, spend a few dollars and pick up a heat reflective emergency blanket. These are packaged and barely take up any space, and will be crucial if someone is going into shock. It could just save a life.
Solar-powered Battery Charger
There is nothing scarier than having a dead cellphone and a dead car battery, so you can’t charge your phone. Solar-powered cellphone chargers are inexpensive, and if you ever lose power at your house, you will have one handy in your car to use. You may be thinking it won’t be useful if you break down at night, but the sun rises bright and early in California, so you will be able to charge your phone as soon as that yellow globe can be seen on the horizon. It is nice to know that you will only be stranded for a few hours, and you will be able to call someone soon.