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Stranded? Be smart!

May 11, 2010

If you’re lucky enough to have never broken down on the side of the road, I applaud you. And warn you: your luck will probably run out sooner than later. Breaking down and waiting for help on the side of the road is no fun. But if you take a few precautionary steps and are prepared, it won’t be so bad. And don’t think that you only need these things when you’re on a long road trip; people often break down near their homes. I personally had a blowout just last weekend less than 15 miles from home. Boy, was I frustrated!

Make sure the manual for your vehicle is in the glove compartment. It’s full of handy information, and maybe you can figure out what’s wrong with your car; it helps to be informed. Don’t ever leave home without your cell phone and a car charger. If you forget it, you’ll break down, it’s Murphy’s Law. The last time I locked my keys in my car, I was four blocks from home, and didn’t have my cell phone, which left me walking through a semi-scary area in the dark while wearing a ridiculous ensemble of a short skirt and Ugg boots. If you have AAA, good for you! Keep your AAA card and contact info handy; they are lifesavers. It’s also good to keep a pen and paper in your glove box with all of this stuff, too; you never know when you’ll need to write down a phone number or an address in case of an emergency.

In your trunk, there are several items that are good to have on hand. Flares or a reflective triangle are good to have. It’s scary to be stuck on the shoulder; you need to pull off the road as much as possible into the grass. If you can’t make sure you set up the flares or triangle so that passing motorists can see you and steer clear. (And just beware, nobody is going to stop and ask if you need help in this day and age, as sad as that is. So be ready for a long, boring wait.)

You will also want to keep a couple of extra blankets and coats in the trunk, in case you get stuck during the winter time. Other essential gear includes a flashlight, first aid kit, car jack, battery-operated radio (and batteries!) and an ice scraper. Make sure you have jumper cables, too. Also, keep a supply of bottled water, and some non-perishable food items, like energy bars or beef jerky.

Last but not least, have something to do! I think that being stuck with nothing to keep me occupied is the worst. So keep an extra book, or some playing cards or something with your emergency roadside kit, just in case. And if you think this sounds like too much work, you can always purchase a ready-made kit from AAA, which is available online or from a local retailer.

Be smart, be prepared!

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