Do you carry any extra safety items in your car?
Maybe in the trunk, on the floor behind your seat or in the glove box? If you were caught in a snow storm or bush fire or even many hours in a queue behind a motor vehicle accident, how would you manage? For example, do you carry a mobile phone charger, or extra food or water, blanket, torch, walking shoes? I’m not thinking about the usual and daily safety items such as fire extinguisher, high viz vest, safety triangles, travelling medical kit, tyre repair kit, car tool kit which all cars have tucked away. What about Apps installed onto your mobile phone or tablet to help you keep safe?
For long distance trips, appropriate extra items are ticked off my checklists. However for routine drives I am rather more casual but was once caught short and learnt my lesson. A couple of years ago I drove solo in my modern daily car from Sydney to the Southern Highlands on a late Friday afternoon. This trip usually took a solid two hours with the heavier end of week traffic. The route traversed tracts of wild bushland on an expressway popular with interstate trucks and vehicles. It was summer with 40+ degree Centigrade heat and hot winds; typical bush fire season.
Several mistakes were made in my haste to leave the city in peak traffic time. I didn’t check the live traffic forecast before departure, only carried one plastic bottle of water and my mobile phone charger was faulty. In retrospect it was stupid but this was a weekly routine drive of 120+ kms headed for home. Soon it was obvious that there was a major fire ahead with media helicopters in the sky, horrible black smoke clouds and long lines of stationary traffic. It was blisteringly hot and no shade. There were no sideroads to divert onto. One just had to sit and wait it out. Turn off the engine, turn off the air conditioner. Drink lots of water, listen to the radio and walk around and stretch stiff joints. I had no phone reception and nothing to read. I did find some peppermints to chew. My children are long grown up otherwise I would have found muesli bars secreted away and maybe an apple rolling around under a seat.
Eventually in slow single file, I chugged past flaming trees, melted road signs and weary firefighters to arrive home in the dark several hours later, tired and dehydrated. What did I learn? Water is paramount. Now I keep a large stainless steel thermos flask full of water permanently in my car – not in plastic because it not only tastes bad but probably leaches toxins into the water you drink. Also a sun hat. The live traffic App is installed on my mobile phone so I can easily check road conditions as well as Weather and Rainfall Apps. A Kindle is in my large handbag for impromptu reading.
Cars become our mobile personal storage spaces. If you searched my daily car you’d find walking poles, a pair of joggers and clean socks, waterproof backed picnic rug, hand cream, coin purse, nail file, suntan cream, plastic and canvas shopping bags, spare reading glasses and sunglasses, couple of biros, tissue box, an umbrella, bits of used paper and the list goes on. I sometimes wonder what the mechanics must think when they service my car and see my stuff. At least no-one sees what bits and pieces lie in the bottom of my handbag. I’m sure everything will be useful one day.
What extra personal items do you store in your car? Will they keep you safe and comfortable for all unexpected situations?
Around the world at the moment, there are floods, snow and bush fires. Keep safe and here’s to successful long distance driving.
Until next month, enjoy planning your next long road trip.