Road-ready

By Christopher Crown

April 3, 2017 4 min read

As a car owner, it's important to prepare for the worst-case scenarios.

*In Case of Emergency

As stormy spring and summer months approach, drivers will be faced with new types of weather emergencies. Sudden downpours could cause flash floods and mudslides, and tornado season is sweeping across the plains. To prep for these potential issues, vehicle safety includes weather preparedness as well as routine readiness any time you are away from home.

It's crucial to have a backup plan in place for unexpected road emergencies. Popular Mechanics recommends these key components of any good car emergency kit:

--Water and food. For extended periods spent without assistance, it's critical to stay hydrated and have an ample supply of nutrient-dense food. Many times, keeping a few granola bars and some peanut butter will do but, for extreme emergencies Popular Mechanics recommends keeping canned dog food in the trunk. Most people eat through their emergency food too quickly, so keeping a less appetizing option often helps drivers wait until they really need it.

--Jumper cables, toolbox, tire patch kits and a car jack. Many times, drivers can solve the problem themselves with the right tools on hand. Carry a stocked toolkit and it could save you from having to wait hours for a tow.

--Emergency blanket and first-aid kit. In an emergency, this gear could be exactly what you need to stay comfortable until help arrives. If you have to spend the night in your vehicle, a space blanket will help protect you from the cold. And having a first-aid kit will come in handy in case to treat minor injuries or to stem worse injuries until professional medical treatment is available.

--Fire extinguisher. Although you won't get the car back running on your own, preventing explosions and limiting smoke and flames will preserve the remaining integrity of the engine.

*Preventing Theft

In the same 60 seconds it takes you to grab a gallon of milk from the gas station or return a DVD, a burglar can break into your car and leave the scene. Using the same metal tool that roadside assistance mercifully uses to unlock your door when you trap your keys inside, car burglars effortlessly steal wallets, phones, laptops, briefcases and even loose change from dashboards and passenger seats. Lacking current safety features, older car models can even be broken into with a modified coat hanger or door wedge.

In fact, the Bureau of Justice Statistics Reports 564,160 instances of vehicle theft, and AOL Auto reports nearly 1.85 million car burglaries each year. According to these sources, American citizens lose roughly $1.25 billion from automotive crime. Although some thieves will break in with the intent of stealing a car, most will simply steal valuables and quickly leave. Nationwide Insurance calls these common crimes "smash and grab" burglaries.

Follow this list of tips to keep your vehicle and its contents as safe as possible:

--Lock your doors. Even for quick stops, locking your doors is necessary. This is true every time you park at home in your driveway, on the street and even in your garage. Likewise, lock your garage.

--Completely close sunroofs.

--Stash all valuables in locked compartments before you park. Many thieves will wait around busy parking lots to watch for stashed valuables.

--Park near areas of high foot traffic.

--Ensure your car safety features are up-to-date. This includes audible alarms, steering wheel locks, theft deterrent decals and more.

Following these tips faithfully will help protect your property and yourself. And if you prepare your vehicle ahead of time, proper auto safety becomes quite manageable.

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