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IS the end of the world just around the corner?

Probably not.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be prepared. After all, there are enough emergencies in today’s world … from the earthquakes that rattle the Western states, to the tornadoes that whip through the Midwest to the hurricane and floods that hammer the south. And that is exactly why it makes good sense to keep an emergency kit in your car to help you in times of need.

There are two kinds of car kits. One is used for vehicle troubles while the other is for you and any passengers in the car. In the following story, we’ll look at some of the supplies you need, why you need them and the strategies needed to use them.

 

THE VEHICLE KIT

Very few people have enough commanyou’re covered.

Next, carry the tools to repair a flat tire. Every car should be equipped with a car jack and spare tire, and it is imperative to learn how to change a flat.

You should also have a set of jumper cables. The cables are two colors: red for positive and black for negative. Battery connections usually show corresponding colors and symbols for the cables. Connect the positive and negative cables to the corresponding terminals on the “live” car and then connect them to the “dead” car. Then, turn on the ignition of the dead car.

A small selection of tools is good to have, and that includes a multi-driver and duct tape. Wrenches and ratchets sets can be used to tighten things that have come loose as happens from time to time. The duct tape can be used to temporarily patch broken water hoses or cover broken windows.

Keep in mind that your life could depend on these items so buy good quality items and don’t substitute.

For instance, digging yourself out of a snow bank is easier and safer with a proper shovel than it is with a coffee can. Sure, one is free and the other isn’t, but your life is worth a $14 collapsible shovel.

 

THE PEOPLE KIT

The first item you need is a good sturdy backpack. Sure, it’s not generally recommended that you move from the car, but the backpack will make it easier to transport your supplies should you have to get mobile.

Next, what should you carry? Some good items to have are a candle lantern because it will supply warmth and light. A headlamp is a good source of light and it leaves your hands free to do work.

Back-up food is good too. You might not be out there long, but a quick snack will keep spirits up and provide energy. An axe and saw can be used to get your car unstuck. On occasion, I have chopped down braches and put them under the tires to get traction.

 

Always carry something to signal with audibly and visually.

A whistle and your car horn are good for audible signals.

Visual items include signal mirrors and emergency help signs.

 

 

There are a couple of extras that you should have too, including a rescue tool in the event you have to make an emergency car exit and a safety vest so you’re visible on the highway at night if you are working on your car.

 

BE READY, BE PREPARED

Granted, there has been talk of the world coming to an end, but it’s a safe bet it won’t … for a very long time.

However, you can be assured that somewhere in the country an emergency is going to occur, and you may be caught in your car when that does happen. That’s why it’s important to stay calm and stay with the vehicle, ideally in a highly visible location.

Then all you have to do is keep yourself safe until help comes. And your supply kits will allow you to do that.

Abe Elias has been teaching about wilderness and survival for more than 17 years.

 

Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in a 2012 print issue of American Survival Guide.