Last week on the Triangle Tactical Podcast, I spoke about being a ‘Man of Action’, and taking action in an emergency situation instead of hoping that someone else will jump in and help. Just stopping and offering help is all that is needed in many situations, but there are a few simple things that you can have in your vehicle that could help save a life in an emergency situation.
1. Glass Breaker. Having something in your vehicle that is capable of breaking auto glass is important. If you have ever tried to break tempered auto glass with your hands, you know that it is extremely difficult to break. I would recommend something like a Resqme tool, or even something as simple as a spring loaded center punch from the hardware store. The trick to breaking tempered glass is concentrated force on a very small area, which is why a center punch works great.
I’ve carried the Resqme tool in my car for a number of years, usually on a piece of paracord tied around the shifter. The nice thing about this particular tool, is that you can put it on your keys (or around your shifter) and it will always be handy in the case of an emergency, whether you are trapped in your car, or trying to help someone else get out of their own vehicle.
2. Leather Gloves. Good, solid, heavy duty full leather gloves. Leather gloves are great or handling things that are sharp or hot, and may allow you to intervene in a situation that you could not without them. My favorites are some of the heavy duty gloves that are marketed for farmers, and you can get them at a farm and fleet type of store. I’d recommend that you stay away from the lighter duty mechanic gloves, as they don’t stand up too well to broken glass, heat, or many other hazards (although they are great for changing your oil, and other tasks).
3. Fire Extinguisher. Purchasing a fire extinguisher is a little bit of an investment, but when you need one, there aren’t many other things that will suffice. When shopping for a fire extinguisher for your vehicle, look into one that has an ABC rating. There are many things in a vehicle that can burn, A rated things like fabric, insulation, and plastic, B rated things like fuel, and C rated things like electrical fires. Because a vehicle has all of these hazards, it is very important to have a fire extinguisher that can handle all of these types of fires.
4. First Aid Kit. Duh! Now, I’m far less concerned with things like small bumps and scrapes in an emergency situation than I am things like arterial bleeding, and broken bones. I have trauma kit that ride in my car just about everywhere I go. I’m not a medical professional, so I’m not going to recommend a bunch of stuff that you should carry, but I’d recommend carrying the level of stuff in your first aid kit that you are comfortable using. I don’t carry a decompression needle in my kit, because I wouldn’t have the first clue how to use it.
5. Warmth. Those of you who live in the northern states probably already know this, but warmth is something that is often overlooked down here in the south, even though it has been dipping below freezing at night. Hypothermia can set in when temperatures are well above freezing, so warmth is something that needs to be taken seriously. If you’ve been reading the blog for any length of time, you know I have a thing for fire (I’m really not a pyro, I promise) but having a means to start a fire is a good thing. Imagine being stranded on the side of a road during a freak snow storm in the south. Being in the south, everyone else is probably stranded as well (everybody forgets how to drive when the white stuff starts falling), so help will probably be overwhelmed, and could be a ways off. Cars are rather poorly insulated, ever shut off the car in the summer and notice how quickly it heats up? The same thing happens in the cold, and a warm car gets really cold, really fast, so having warmth is a necessity.
In my kit, I have my pine cone stove, a firesteel, and some esbit solid fuel tablets (these made great fire starters, or you can cook over them as a stand alone). I also have a military surplus 100% wool blanket. Wool is a great material, as it retains much of its insulating ability even when wet.
It might not be a bad idea to make a duplicate kit, and throw it in your spouse’s vehicle as well. The thought of my family being stranded on the side of the road somewhere, unprepared scares me more than being stranded myself.
This is a picture of my personal vehicle kit. It rides in my trunk, and has for some time. Obviously there is a lot more in it than just the 5 things listed above (and it’s missing a fire extinguisher). If you are interested in hearing about the rest of the items I carry in my kit, make sure to tune in to this week’s Triangle Tactical podcast, which will be Episode 11. You can find the podcast under the “podcast” header at the top of the page, or subscribe through itunes.
Stay safe, and be prepared!