Emergency situations can arise anywhere at any time. Being prepared for emergencies often requires more than a working jack to change a tire. Storing an emergency kit in a vehicle truck puts paid to the phrase, ‘Better safe than sorry.’
Basic Survival Items
When planning an emergency kit, start from the most basic level—survival. Survival items comprise the base need platform of food, water and shelter.
Food: Energy bars, crackers, bread and even snack cans of fruits, vegetables and meats can provide energy and nutrients. Even hard candy can provide energy and stabilize some diabetics for the short-term.
Water: Bottled water is a basic item. Powered mixes can flavor the water and provide electrolytes. The water can be in individual bottles or larger jugs. Keep some segregated for first aid purposes, however.
Shelter: Rain ponchos, emergency blankets and tarps can provide shelter when stretched between branches, posts and poles. Sturdy nylon rope provides tie-down options and bracing. Even without the lean-to options, they can be wrapped around each person to ward off the cold and inclement weather. Emergency blankets can withhold up to 90% of body heat and can insulate from ground cold.
Above the basic survival level, next rests basic safety items. These provide light and signal help.
Flashlight: High-powered flash lights can signal emergency crews or passing vehicles. They can illuminate pathways. They can also provide light in make-shift shelters, but use should be limited to save the batteries. Better yet, store shake-to-activate flashlights and eliminate the need for batteries.
Flares: Storing both ground flares and gun flares is highly recommended. Ground flares illuminate accident scenes and warn ground traffic. Gun flares call attention from the air, which can be crucial if the emergency scene is not easily visible from the ground.
Fire Extinguisher: Small, multi-source fire extinguishers provide fire safety from wood fires, fuel fires and other fire sources. Keep them fully charged; testing and charging services are often provided by the fire department.
First Aid Kit: Keep a comprehensive first aid kit well-stocked. Gauze, aspirin, non-aspirin pain killers, waterproof tape, scissors, splints, joint braces and slings are a few recommended items. Don’t forget the antibiotic ointment.
Blankets and Sleeping Bags: Layering of small, lightweight blankets offer warmth and comfort. Sleeping bags provide warmth and protection as well.
Contacting emergency services requires having a way to communicate. Cell phones can provide that venue if a cell signal is available. Calling a tow service or an ambulance can facilitate well-being or medical care. Contacting friends or family can calm fears or request help. If in new areas, often the cell phone operator can help with services in the strange area and can connect directly to service providers.
Additional items can provide at least one-way communications.
Radios: All-band radios allow weather tracking and often an emergency band. It can also provide a bit of comfort in hearing music or news casts—that voice of civilization. Keep double the number of required batteries in reserve, and always make sure the batteries are still charged. Solar-powered radios eliminate battery need altogether.
Hand-Held CB Radios: Law enforcement continually monitors channel 9 for emergency calls. Passing motorists and commercial vehicles often have CB radios; most monitor channel 19. Any channel may have voice activity, but channels 9 and 19 hold the better chances of contact.
It’s far better to be a little over-prepared than to be under-prepared, even when traveling locally. Unfortunately, unforeseen circumstances can occur anywhere and at any time. Roads can shut down from a traffic accident and stay closed for hours and in any weather. Vehicles can break down without warning. Be as prepared as possible. The alternative could be deadly.