In military lingo, “kit” refers to “a set of articles or equipment needed for a specific purpose.” Such as not being helpless if your vehicle stops working – or moving – on account of bad weather or a mechanical failure.
Every vehicle ought to equipped with such kit – for just in case.
The problem is, you’ll have to put one together, yourself – because most modern cars haven’t got any kit at all. Or even a spare tire, in many cases.
Here are some items you might want to have on hand for when just-in-case becomes now what?
What if you find yourself having to walk a distance in rain? Or maintain body heat, in the cold? You can buy survival ponchos and emergency blankets at camping/outfitter stores that fold into almost nothing, so take up next to no space in your vehicle’s cargo area. Some warm gloves/socks/wool hats are a good addition to such kit, along with plastic bags big enough to house your feet. Put them on over your socks, to keep your feet dry (and warm) in the event your shoes get soaked.
Coolant kit –
For you and your car, both of which could overheat one day. Both can be addressed with water, which serves the same purpose as coolant – antifreeze – in a pinch. Since you can’t (well, shouldn’t) drink anti-freeze but your car’s cooling system can “drink” water, keep that rather than a jug of coolant in the back somewhere.
Also a roll of silver duct tape, which is strong enough to contain a leak coming from a radiator hose and keep you mobile. If your car has a serpentine belt driving the accessories – such as the water pump as well as the alternator, air conditioner compressor and power steering pump – buy a spare in advance and keep it with the car. If the old belt frays and breaks, you’ll be good to go. Serpentine belts require almost no tools to install – just the right-sized wrench or socket to lever the idler/tensioner down to remove/install the belt.
Which brings us to . .
Tool kit –
Richard III is said to have said: My kingdom for a horse! – just before Henry II’s men took away his kingdom. Don’t find yourself saying the same over a screwdriver, razor blade or some other minor but critical item.
You can buy kit in this respect that includes a screwdriver with multiple different-sized bits, Phillips and standard. Add a decent little knife or box cutter to this. Some kits come with a set of jumper cables, too. An adjustable wrench and a medium-sized set of vise-grip pliers can also be very handy to have on hand; either can be used to remove/install bolts of various sizes. A flashlight is, of course, essential. And keep the batteries separate. Make sure the batteries aren’t old/dead by checking them annually, at least.
Comms kit –
Most everyone has a sail fawn. But what good is it if you can’t charge the thing? Many cars do have USB/12V charge points. But if your car isn’t running, it isn’t charging. A really handy thing to have on hand is a portable charger for devices such as sail fawns, tablets and so on. These can keep ’em going for a day or longer, without any external power. You can pick up various sizes and types – most about the size of a pack of cigarettes – for less than $50.
Once charged up, these retain power for weeks – even months. Keep one in your glovebox or center console and you’ll be able to call someone for help or just to let them know your situation – even if you forgot to charge up your phone before you found yourself stuck.
Another smart thing to do/keep on hand is a written roster of family/friends’ phone numbers. Many of us no longer memorize these. We have them in our phone’s contact list. But what if they phone goes dark? How are you going to call them if you have no idea what their number is?
Medical kit –
Not “masks” – but a perhaps a box of Band Aids, which actually work.
These are super handy to have on hand when someone gets a cut. It’s not so much about keeping them alive – as no one bleeds to death from a cut and if they are bleeding arterially, you’ll need more than a Band Aid. It’s about keeping them from staining your car’s upholstery. An ace bandage can be used as a tourniquet, in the event of arterial spray.
If you or anyone you’ll be driving takes meds, be sure they have them before you go on a long drive.
Even if you never get stuck, you never know where you might end up – or find yourself in the midst of. Road rage, “peaceful” protests. . . weaponized hypochondriacs. Possibly something worse, given the way the world’s turning.
A firearm is the best sort of kit, but not everyone can or wants to carry that kind of kit. The next-best form of self-defense kit is probably mace – the real stuff, the kind armed government workers carry – not the weak stuff that’s often sold as “mace” but which isn’t very effective. Wasp spray works, too – and it’s great kit because it doesn’t look like mace.
As in, that spare tire so many new cars no longer come standard with. Instead, they come with inflator kits, which work just fine if the tire puncture is in the tread. If the sidewall is punctured, they’re useless. Almost as useless are those “temporary use” spares many new cars have instead of the inflator kit. These feeble things will barely get you going again and often are paired with flimsy – dangerous/inadequate jacking equipment.
It is not a bad idea at all to buy a real (full-size) spare and a sturdy jack/tire iron and throw them in the trunk. They take up room, for sure. But you’ll be glad they did if you ever need them.
The best kit of all is what we who were once Boy Scouts learned as a mantra:
. . .
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