As we move into the winter months, breaking down in your car or getting stuck while an accident is cleared from the road can become a health and safety issue, as well as an inconvenience. You can stay safe and relatively comfortable by keeping some essentials in your vehicle at all times – here are our top recommendations.
A dead battery or faulty alternator can be an absolute nightmare – but it’s relatively easy to be proactive here. Keep jumper cables (and know how to use them!) in your car, and you can get yourself on the road again quickly and with a minimum of hassle.
A hydraulic trolley jack and a spare tire/wheel should be part of any vehicle’s emergency kit. Trolley jacks are used to lift a corner or side of your vehicle up slightly to let you change the wheel or access the underside. If you have your own jack, and you can get your car to a safe place away from the roadside, you can deal with your own punctured tyre without having to wait for a roadside assistance company to make its way to you. (Note that you shouldn’t do this for yourself at the roadside or on the hard shoulder of a motorway, however, for safety reasons.)
We’ve dealt with the two most common causes of breakdowns. But what about those long delays and tailbacks? Keep enough water and food for all the occupants of the car to stay hydrated and fed. You don’t need to pack a Sunday lunch or anything, just a couple of bottles of water and a pack of biscuits or protein bars is sufficient to stave off the worst and keep you sharp and focused on the road.
Keeping a first aid kit in your car is an excellent practice to adopt. Make sure it is stocked up with gauzes, plasters and bandages to deal with injuries from accidents, as well as any medications, inhalers and anti-allergic reaction drugs you or your family might need.
This one’s for the kids really – the more bored your children get, the more they will start to pester you and become a distraction. Keep something age-appropriate stashed away for them to entertain themselves with – a deck of cards, a puzzle book, a story book, etc. – and you should be able to stay focused on driving.
Breaking down in the dead of winter or overnight can bring a real risk of hypothermia or other cold-related health issues. If your car is broken down, then odds are you won’t be able to run the heater – even a car full of people will get cold fairly quickly. Conserve heat and stave off illness with a fleece or microfibre blanket.
It’s no good having jumper cables or trolley jacks in the car if you can’t see what you’re doing to use them. Keep a good quality torch in your car and you’ll be all set. This is also great for if you have to abandon your car – the last thing you want is to set off into the dark and trip down an embankment. Don’t just assume you’ll be able to use the torch on your phone – you might have no charge or, if you have, you might want to retain it for using map or GPS services or calling for help.
Author Bio: First Mats started life as safety matting specialists, but have since expanded to become a complete industrial and commercial supplies company. The focus of First Mats is to provide safety-focused products that improve the wellbeing of staff through quality approved products, backed up by extensive knowledge. www.firstmats.co.uk