Thursday, April 19, 2012

Getting Your Vehicle Ready

I have to write about this one today because well, if it's going to happen, it's going to or already has happened to me. Plus a girlfriend of mine just went through heck when her car broke down about 100 miles from home, in the middle of nowhere! 

I grew up in farm country where it was always drilled into my head to be prepared, that being said, as I approached my teens and was in my early 20s or so, I let that fundamental rule slide. In a effort I suppose to distance myself from my old fashioned family members. Then the two years prior to having my boys, everything that could go wrong, did. A.B. (after boys), it happened with less frequency but, when things went wrong, it was a much bigger deal! So, in an effort to save anyone with having to handle a baby (still in a carseat and unable to crawl), a feeding tube bag with a long tube running between the two and having to figure out how you're going to stay cool or warm and trying to fix something in your vehicle, I'm going to share my vehicle preps with you. Those were NOT fun times! I'm still not sure how I didn't rip that NG tube out during those times. :D

Now I realize that not everyone is lucky enough (well, if you don't count the cost of gas in these buggers) to own a full sized van or even some kind of SVU but, I seriously believe in being ready for anything when you have kiddos. The picture above is the back end of my van. I have a built in box at the top of the picture and it holds things like my fluids (oil, antifreeze, and windshield wiper fluid). It also houses jumper cables, an emergency first aid kit, emergency blankets, flares, and a larger tarp for emergencies.

Fluids are important for obvious reasons, as are ice scrapers in the winter and an emergency first aid kits. Another thing I think it important to keep on hand in any vehicle are tools. Now, not asking you to be like a mechanic and carry all the wrenches, and ratchets under the sun but, a rubber mallet and/or a simple set of screwdrivers (flat and phillips) will come in handy! Not only for car related things but, if you ever get those toys from a store that are screwed in, you've got the means to undo them and give yourself 5 minutes of peace in a car filled with kids! :) Trust me when I say that as a non-mechanical person, they have come in handy a dozen times over for use just with my vehicles!
Second thing I've found useful is a pair of scissors. Not for any emergency really but, they come in handy after the purchase of items at a store or if you've got something hanging somewhere. You don't need a full on big daddy pair but, the folding kind that comes with a sewing kit is perfect because it takes up very little room. There are myriad of uses for a good pair of scissors though.
I recommend an old telephone book as well. When you get this year's phone book, put last years in your vehicle. This way if you need to find or call someone or a company, you have the means to do so. Another good thing about having the phone book is that most of them have maps in there and if you do not have a local map or atlas in your car, another thing I recommend, then phone books can come in handy. As well as a pen/pencil and paper. To use if you need a license plate number, to exchange insurance information in case of accident or to leave a note on the car for anyone that's come looking for you, that you've gone to get gas at that gas station two miles back.

Here's some additional info about the things in my built in box in the back.
First, the first aid kit: I remove all medicinal items like burn ointment, antibiotic ointment and any ibuprofen, asprin or tylenol. I do this because the ups and downs of temperature your vehicle experiences will often ruin those items if left there too long. So, instead I pack them in a ziplock bag and toss into my purse. So, that they're still with me but, in a temperature stable area.
Second, the tarp: If you're  wondering why there's a tarp in there, tarps are great for many things! For example, they offer a protection from rain and sun if you need it. If for any reason your vehicle breaks down in the middle of nowhere, and you've no tent in your car, it also provides something to lay on that is waterproof, if the ground is wet. You can also make a dandy tent out of one if need be.
Three, the emergency blankets: They're great things to have on hand! They are waterproof, keep body heat in to some degree, reflective material when you hit it with light, can be folded to utilize a small space and are lightweight! I love multitaskers!

If you're wondering about the sleeping bags. I carry 3 bags for kiddos, one for each of my boys and one in case I have a nephew in tow or their half brother. I carry 3 adult bags as well, again just in case I have family  or friends in tow. The bonus is that when I go camping my van is already packed. Yes, I have my tent in there as well! :) Underneath the wooden box, the storage area goes all the way under the back seat! So, I carry the tent, the sleeping bags, and mats to lay on that you'd normally put under your bags but, you can lay on them outright under the stars on a warm night. I also have blankets in case we need them. Inside on the side, I also have a bag full of one change of clothes for the boys and I. Changed out, depending upon the season.

My purse, while not a designer bag, is mainly used for function. I carry a host of things in there (as all mothers of little ones do) besides the medical ointments and meds in a baggy, I also carry juice and snacks too! "Just in case"! Now, I don't recommend this set up for everyone and I realize that everyone again, does not have the room that I do but, what I do think you should do is start thinking in "what ifs" here. If you've got kids especially, I think being prepared is a good thing! Keep in mind that you can add a hundred things to this list and I have more than mentioned here but, the point is, I would like to make, is to think ahead and be ready for what could happen! Remember to keep your vehicle preps in line with the season too.

Be safe on the roads and have fun with getting your vehicle prepared, involve the kiddos too. This allows them to not only add special toys to keep in the car, which they will love but, this also gives them an added sense of security as well. They will know where everything is and they will not be alarmed if something were to go wrong! It will also give you peace of mind to know that all your ducks are in a row too.

This may seem extreme to some city dwellers but, here in farm country, even in a bigger city, chances are you're traveling at some point, several miles away from your home and these things will come in handy! Trust me, I know! :)

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