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Let the I-95 nightmare prompt you to prepare an emergency kit for your car

These items could be lifesaving during a weather emergency.

VIRGINIA, USA — Do you have an emergency preparedness kit at the ready? And if you have one in your home, do you have another one in your vehicle?

The nightmare that was the daylong standstill traffic on I-95 due to the snow emergency on Monday should be a lesson for drivers: Make sure to always have an emergency kit at the ready when driving.

Sen. Tim Kaine (D) of Virginia told reporters Tuesday over the course of 27 hours of waiting on I-95 Monday into Tuesday, he only drank a Dr. Pepper and ate one orange. He could have been more nourished if he kept an emergency kit in his vehicle with snacks and water.

There's no need to break the bank when creating a kit for your car, just gather some items that you can find in your household or at a local supermarket. 

Here are some ideas—suggested by Ready.gov, AAA, and the American Red Cross— to pack in your vehicle's emergency preparedness kit. 

Here's what to have on hand in your vehicle:

  • Car phone charger and fully charged power banks
  • First aid kit
  • Blanket
  • Jumper cables
  • Ice scraper
  • A basic set of tools and car emergency flares
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Paper towels or rags
  • Sand or cat litter for tire traction
  • Water, non-perishable food and protein bars

Make sure your car is prepared for an emergency

It's important to regularly have your car looked at by a mechanic. According to Ready.gov, a mechanic should always make sure the following is in tip-top shape:

  • Antifreeze levels
  • Ignition system and battery
  • Brakes
  • Exhaust system
  • Air filter and fuel
  • Heater and defroster
  • Lights and hazard lights
  • Oil
  • Thermostat
  • Windshield wiper equipment and washer fluid level

General practices for drivers during weather emergencies:

Anytime there is a snowstorm, rain or other severe weather, Ready.gov suggests drivers make sure of the following:

  • Keep gas tank full;
  • Install strong winter tires;
  • Don't drive through flooded areas;
  • Keep aware of areas where floodwaters have receded;
  • If a power line ever falls on your car stay inside until a trained person removes the wire due to risk of electrical shock;
  • If your car becomes difficult to control, pull over, stop the vehicle and set the parking brake;
  • In the case the emergency could affect the stability of a roadway, avoid bridges, power lines, overpasses and other hazards.

Bottom line: Be prepared 

The bottom line is to be prepared for an emergency when driving and make a kit that fits your needs. If you share items from your kit with others in the case of an emergency, you're sure to make someone very grateful.


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