24/7 MOMS

Thursday, February 3, 2011

It’s Winter, Is Your Car Ready For an Emergency?

Amy Hannold, 247Moms Frugal Living Editor

Recently, I had the misfortune of a flat tire. I’m known for having a household of stuff in my car, and this “adventure” put that to the test. Join me in my car, alongside the freeway, as sunset is approaching.

What I was glad I had in my car:

My son’s old shoes: I was returning from a dressy occasion, driving through an area that had snow and slush on the ground. Though his shoes were much bigger than my feet, they were better in an emergency than my dress boots.

Food and Some Emergency Supplies: I found food, water, flashlights, an extra coat, my car’s manual, cell phone charger, a local phone book, basic tools, chocolate, gloves, the bible, a blanket, pen/paper, and a basic first aid kit (including non-aspirin pain reliever). I was ready to sit for an hour or so, but I could have been better prepared.

What I wished I had in my car:

The batteries in my flashlights would not have lasted me longer than an hour. I was cold, and wishing for some handwarmers. The food I found in my car was “kid snacks”, nothing that would have sustained me beyond an hour (or comforted me in my emergency). I also was not aware of the size of spare tire I had or how to remove it from underside the car. The back of my car was so full of “stuff”, that when the kind police officer wanted to access the tire jack, I had to quickly move everything.

I have since added to my Emergency Car Kit:

Emergency Supplies: heavy work gloves, plastic garbage bags, Ziploc bags, jumper cables, durable ice scraper, heavy tape, a battery operated radio (with extra batteries), an empty duffle bag (to evacuate from the car with things we need), socks for each person, a jack-knife, glow sticks, prescription medications, tuna/jerky packets, a heavy blanket, a small notebook and pens, flashlight batteries, some cash and coin, a completed “Emergency Contact Form” (get yours at Ready.gov), reading material/puzzle books, lip balm and hand lotion, a few diapers (for someone I meet that needs one), utensils, matches, can opener, flares, plastic ponchos, pantyhose (for those fashion emergencies), a “twin” to my daughter’s favorite stuffed animal, and some small cans of fruit with easy-open tops.

Steps I Have Taken: Communication:

My husband and I have talked about how the emergency features of the car work and tire replacement information. (It would have helped to know what size of tire I had, as the small spare would not have seen me home.)

I’ve talked with my kids about who we call in an emergency and how they can make that call. I’ve begun talking with my son and daughter about the area we live in and pointing out a few different routes home. I’ve always been grateful that my mom taught me how to navigate through the neighboring cities. Her calm, resourceful manner in which she found her way around stays with me.

Organization and Information: I’ve sorted through the contents of my car and organized what I need in two or three plastic boxes. I found these boxes at the thrift store. Some of the softer supplies I packed in a backpack (items I might want to carry away with me). Part of being ready for an emergency means I will keep my car more organized and clean. Creativity and tight packing came in handy. Quality, multi-use items were purchased when possible. I packed the items efficiently, in an order which I could find them under stress. I didn’t share all of the contents with my kids, but I did show them the basic items we had they could access in a time of need.

Frugality and emergency preparedness prepare you for the unexpected. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune to be ready. Find your supplies with coupons, freecycle.org, clearance sales, and around the house. Take action! Communicate and read the valuable information available at ready.gov. “Map your neighborhood” by getting to know your neighbors – what they have to offer in an emergency and who you might have to look in on.

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