Be prepared in a roadside emergency
This winter, the news featured many stories of motorists stranded for hours in their vehicles due to severe snowstorms. Although extreme examples of roadside emergencies, having a breakdown on the Coquihalla in the middle of February half-way between Merritt and Kamloops isn’t so far-fetched, and could pose a host of problems.
Fast-forward to the summer months when temperatures in the Okanagan and Osoyoos can reach the mid-30’s and higher. A roadside emergency that sees you stranded on the side of the road for hours in the sun could be just as hazardous.
Whether you’re commuting to work or driving long distances, whether you’re driving in the middle of winter or summer, BCAA suggests you carry the following tools and emergency items in the trunk of your vehicle.
- Fully charged mobile phone
- Booster cables, shovel, and a flashlight
- Cloth or roll of paper towels
- Warning light or road flares
- Window mount reflective triangle
- Emergency food pack
- Water bag/unopened drinking water
- Emergency blanket (preferably the reflective “survival” blanket)
- Fire extinguisher
- Reflective vest
- Electrical tape
- Flashlight/radio with wand and stand (hand-crank/battery operated)
- Whistle with compass and lanyard
- Cotton working gloves
- Size D batteries
- Matches and candles
- Cable tie
- Jumper cables
- Air compressor
- Tow rope with locking hooks
- Multi tool
- A basic first aid kit that includes nitrite gloves, adhesive tape and adhesive strips, gauze pads, conforming gauze, antiseptic towelettes, and cotton swabs.
- If you choose a more comprehensive first aid kit, it will include items like a face shield, pain relief (i.e. Acetaminophen) tablets, wet wipes, scissors, tweezers, instant cold packs and various types of bandages (knuckle, abdominal etc...) burn gel, sting relief, tongue depressors, butterfly suture bandages, safety pins, tensor bandages and hand sanitizer.
- Extra prescription medication
Some of these items will have best before or expiry dates, including water, food, and medications. Batteries can also begin to leak or corrode over time. Be sure to check any dates that might be stamped on your emergency kit items, and replace them as required.
Special consideration for winter driving
For winter months, your emergency kit should also include:
- Ice shovel and ice scraper
- Snow brush
- Hand warmers
- Warm clothes (ideally some reflective), good winter boots, and gloves
- Anti-freeze windshield wiper fluid
Special consideration for children and pets
On long drives, children and pets need special consideration—even in non-emergencies. Consider bringing the following:
- Activity bag
- Pillows and blankets
- Additional food or water for both children and pets
Emergency road kits: Columbia Safety
BCAA-recommended Columbia Safety carries comprehensive emergency and survival kits. Kits can be purchased directly online.
Get Prepared: The Canadian government publishes a comprehensive preparedness website. Although the site focuses on disaster and emergency preparedness, the site offers some great tips for road travel.