Durban - Many people simply see their vehicles as something that "gets me from A to B". However, drivers often neglect to prepare for what happens when said vehicle is unable to perform that task. Breakdowns and emergencies can happen to anyone, and we need to ensure that we're adequately prepared to deal with a potential emergency.
Having suffered an assortment of emergency dilemmas during my many years on the road, I have compiled a list of emergency gear. The first three are items that every motorist should have in their vehicle, while the bottom three are advisable to those with older vehicles and ones prone to breaking down.
1. Jumper/boosting cables
There are times when human error intervenes in what would otherwise have been a perfect day. Perhaps you left your lights on or left your radio running for a prolonged period. You get into the car, turn the key and hear that dreaded empty click that comes with a flat battery.
This is when jumper/boosting cables come in handy. A donor vehicle would be needed to lend you some electricity and having jumper/boosting cables on hand makes the task of getting your car started much easier.
There are even newer and more expensive kits that have electricity stored in them so that you can get your car started without the need for an electricity donor.
2. Basic medical kit
In the unfortunate event of an injury or accident, it's imperative that we be prepared for emergency remedies, making the medical kit a quintessential piece of gear that must be stowed in your vehicle.
Your kit should consist of rubbing alcohol, a box of assorted plasters, a roll of bandage, disinfectant cream or solution like Savlon or Dettol and a set of sharp scissors.
Also ensure that you keep a set of surgical gloves on hand so that if you are required to assist another injured party, you minimise the risk of exposure to the injured party's blood.
3. Jack, wheel spanner, spare tyre & emergency triangle
By law, all vehicles are required to have an emergency triangle so that, in the event of a breakdown, you can place the triangle a few meters behind your vehicle to warn traffic that there is a broken down vehicle ahead. This can prevent an unsuspecting motorist from crashing into your vehicle without having been forewarned as to what lies ahead.
Of course, a spare tyre and a jack in good condition is imperative, along with a wheel spanner, so that changing a tyre on the side of the road is a swift and easy process.
4. Coolant and engine oil
In the event that you car begins overheating on the motorway, having a bottle of coolant and a few bottles of water allows for you to either fix your car on the side of the road or to be able to limp your car to the nearest and safest location where you may have your vehicle repaired.
Engine oil is also an important item to carry in your vehicle as, if you've forgotten to check oil or you've sprung an oil leak, this supply will enable you to prevent severe damage to your engine.
5. Screwdrivers, spanners etc
Particularly if you have an older car, you might want to carry a pair of screw drivers (star and flat), spanners (size 10, 12 and 13), a set of pliers, insulation tape, about a meter of insulated wire and spare fuses for your vehicle. These items will help you perform emergency 'surgery'.
How? Size 10, 12 and 13 spanners enable you to remove or reconnect battery terminals and are often considered the most important sized spanners in your arsenal. Screwdrivers are very important as you never know what panels or consoles you may need to open to fix your beloved automobile.
In the event of an electrical fault, the insulation tape, pliers, fuses and length of insulated wire may come into play. It could enable you to quickly fix most critical electrical faults on your vehicle that will enable you to limp to a mechanic or, if you have mechanical knowhow, you can perform a complete repair on the side of the road.
6. Kit for sticking and cutting
By this I mean a fresh tube of super-glue, a pack of cable/zip ties, a sharp knife and a multi-purpose lubricant spray.
In the event that small items break or body panels become loose, super-glue and cable/zip ties can allow you to conduct the equivalent of a field dressing on your vehicle. These may be temporary fixes yet they could allow you to get the vehicle to a mechanic witouth the need for a tow truck.
The multi-purpose lubricant spray can come in handy when attempting to loosen tight nuts, bolts or screws and, if water has seeped into the electrical parts, a multi-purpose lubricant spray can displace the water.
A sharp knife can be useful if you need to cut rubber insulation or hoses to perform an emergency repair on your vehicle.