Planning a camping or road trip soon? Whether it’s a flat tire, bad weather, or car accident, emergencies can strike anytime and anywhere. You may or may not be able to reach help. It’s important to have the supplies on hand to handle anything that comes your way no matter where you are. That is why we encourage every driver to keep emergency supplies at the ready in their car.
We’ve compiled a list of items you should consider adding to your car’s emergency kit to keep you and your family safe on the road. As items may expire and your needs can remember to regularly check your kit at least every 6 months to make sure all items are still usable and refresh your kit as needed.
- Properly inflated spare tire, jack, & wheel wrench: Regularly check your spare to ensure it inflated properly and holding pressure.
- Jumper cables or portable jump starter: Pros of a portable start are that you don’t need another vehicle to recharge your battery, many have more safety features than traditional cables, they are compact, and they can often be used to charge other items on the go as well. There are some cons to consider though. Portable units need to be recharged after several uses; some may not have the battery capacity to charge larger vehicle batteries, the larger the battery capacity the more expensive they are, and finally the units can be fragile, meaning that they can be easily damaged if not stored properly.
- Road flares and/or reflective triangles: You want to be able to signal to other drivers where you are. If you are stuck on the side of the road changing a tire the last thing you want is for another driver to unexpectedly hit you while not paying attention or due to poor visibility.
- Tool kit: Having some basic tools can help you get off the road and to the repair shop if your car breaks down. This can include a multi-tool, tire gauge, screwdrivers, pliers, duct tape, fire extinguisher, and vehicle fluids (antifreeze, oil, etc.). Tailor your tools to your climate, car, and vehicle age.
- First aid kit: A basic kit with pain reliever, antihistamines, band-aids, hand sanitizer, and gloves is better than nothing, but including a kit with gauze, splints, and any prescription medications your family may need is even better.
- Flashlight: You may become stranded at night or need some extra light to check under the hood of your car if you run into mechanical issues. Also, remember to keep some spare batteries on hand.
- Water: We like to keep at least a gallon of potable water in our vehicle at all times. Water can be used for not only drinking in this case but also cooling your car down in the event it overheats or cleaning something off if needed.
- Food: You may be stuck on the side of the road for a matter of minutes or a matter of hours. Having some food available will keep hungry stomachs at bay and relieve some tension. Try to keep non-perishable items on hand such as granola bars, nuts & seeds, dried goods like fruit or jerky, or MREs as these will last longer. If you have pets along for the ride remember to keep some spare food and water for them as well.
- Blanket and/or spare clothes: This is especially important when traveling in the winter or colder climate. If you are stuck when the temperature drops, you’ll be happy to layer up and keep warm while making a repair or waiting for help. Spare clothes will also help in the event your current clothing gets dirty, damaged, or wet. We like to keep both a thermal emergency blanket and a traditional fleece blanket in the car. Blankets can also be used for shade in warmer climates.
- Emergency contact info: Make sure to have your auto insurance info, contact for roadside assistance, towing, or repair, in addition to emergency contact numbers.
- Weather-related gear: Tailor this to your climate and weather forecasts. This could include an ice scraper, shovel, sand/kitty litter, hand warmers, rain gear, sunblock, or insect repellant.
- Pet supplies: if you have pets make sure to take care of them with items such as food, water, bowls, leashes, and harnesses.
- Child car items: Make sure to keep spare items for the youngest members of your family with spare formula, bottles, diapers, and wipes.
- Sanitary items: Basic items such as paper towels, toilet paper, disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer, feminine hygiene products, trash bags, or Ziplock baggies can all come in handy.
Ready.gov – Car Safety
Prepare today the Cascadia way!
Safe Food Practices During an Emergency
Emergencies and disasters con severely compromise your food. Power outages can result in your inability to store certain foods properly. Knowing the proper way to address these situations, access safe food, and maintain proper hygiene can make a world of difference. Helping you maintain your food supplies and reduce your risk of food-borne illnesses. We’ve compiled information from both the USDA and CDC on best practices when it comes to food safety before and after a major emergency.
Before an Emergency:
Prepare both your food and supplies to aid in the event of a disaster.
Make sure to have an ample supply of emergency food. Most emergency management offices recommend having at least two weeks of supply. The size of your food store will also depend on the number of individuals in your household.
Store emergency foods in a safe location. Make sure that they are accessible and won’t get damaged. Depending on the type of disaster that may affect you most your storage location will change. For example, in a flood, you’ll want food stored up off the ground and out-side of the flood-zone within your home. I the case of an earthquake store should be in a secure area that is least like to be covered by debris or fall due to shaking. Storage shelves should be secured safely to the walls.
Having coolers frozen gel freezer packs on hand can aid in keeping food cool longer in the event of a power outage. Frozen food keeps longer if kept closer together, coolers can help keep foods at a safe temperate for up to 4 hrs.
Add food and appliance thermometers to your emergency supplies. These can help determine if your food is safe to eat. According to the USDA, refrigerators should be kept at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below and freezer at 0 degrees Fahrenheit or below to keep food at a safe temperature.
Having an outdoor grill or camp stove with the proper fuel can assist you in properly cooking food when the power is out.
After an Emergency:
After a disaster strikes, you’ll need to reassess your food supply and maintain proper food practices.
Assess food supplies:
The first thing you’ll want to do is go through your perishable and non-perishable food supplies and get rid of any unsafe foods.
- Remove food that has reached an unsafe temperature, has an odd odor, smell, or coloring.
- Remove any food with obvious signs of mold.
- If your fridge has been without power for more than 4 hrs throw away perishable foods, especially meat, eggs, dairy, and leftover meals.
- Toss any packed or canned food in which the packaging has been damaged.
- Get rid of any food products that are bulging or spurt liquid or foam after being opened.
Keep food surfaces and supplies sanitary:
- Wash all dishes in hot soapy water. Rinse then sanitize in either boiling water or soak in a solution of 1 tablespoon unscented chlorine bleach per gallon of water for 15 minutes. Let air dry.
- To clean counter-tops follow similar steps. First, scrub the surface with warm soapy water, rinse, and follow by sanitizing with one tablespoon unscented chlorine bleach diluted in one-gallon water.
- Don’t use utensils, dishes, or cooking supplies that can’t be sanitized.
Food safety for infants:
- If an infant is still breastfeeding, remain breastfeeding.
- If using baby formula, make sure to boil water before mixing formula. Let the formula cool before feeding.
- Thoroughly clean and sanitize bottles and bottle nipples. Make sure to throw away nipples and pacifiers that have been contaminated by floodwaters; they cannot be sanitized properly.
- Always wash hands before preparing food for a child.
Prepare today the Cascadia way!