Maintain Your Sanity by Planning Ahead for Road Emergencies
Murphy’s Law states that if anything can go wrong, it will and being a parent, you know that this never would have happened if your kids weren’t in the car. You never get to rewind time so it’s important to know how to be prepared for handling road emergencies.
An emergency car kit is something you will never truly appreciate until you need to use one (or until you wish you had one). Things you should put in your kit include cellphone charger, flashlight and batteries, first aid kid, dry-chemical fire extinguisher, hazard triangles or flares, jack and lug wrench, foam tire sealant, jumper cables, clean rags, gloves, hats, blanket, ice scraper, chemical hand warmers, cat litter, water, non-perishable snacks like nuts and granola bars and a folding shovel.
Understand that a vehicle can turn into an ice box very quickly in the winter; you need items that will keep you all warm. You also must have something to make you visible to traffic in case you’re somewhere secluded with minimal lighting.
Recovering from a Front-tire Slide
If you are like most others, when your front tires hit a patch of ice, you tighten your grip and hit the break. All this does is ask for more trouble! What you should do is:
• Stay calm (silently swear about paying tax dollars and the city reducing their salt supply even more this year).
• Take your foot off the gas and resist the urge to brake.
• Keep your hands on the wheel so they are ready for the recovery but loosen your grip so you don’t manipulate the path.
• Wait for the front tires to regain traction.
Recovering from a Rear-tire Slide
Rear-tire slides are the cause behind those spin-outs you always see in the movies. Although your kids may be in the backseat thinking they’re on a fun ride, this can end badly if you’re forced into oncoming traffic or down a steep bank.
The first thing to remember is to not brake suddenly or steer in the opposite direction like your instinct tells you; the skid will escalate.
If you are fishtailing, turn the wheel slightly into the direction that the car is turning and then turn it just enough to straighten out. Be ready to react the same way a few times back and forth if necessary.
One of the most common road emergencies you may face at some point is a tire blowout. Once again, you can probably blame the city; the potholes are probably large enough to swallow your front end. To recover from this, push the gas pedal down and drive straight ahead. That loud noise may startle you and you may be tempted to brake but this isn’t a good idea! Accelerating will put you in control to get the vehicle to the shoulder of the road. Do not brake until you coast to 30 mph or less.
Although you can’t practice your reaction to a tire catastrophe, you can go to an empty parking lot on a snowy day and accelerate, hit the brakes and practice regaining control of a slide. The more comfortable you are, the more likely you will react the way you should when it matters most.
Photo credits: Barber Road again by asw909/flickr; 5+5+5 by emrank/flickr
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